On the way to the nation’s capital with military veterans like himself, John Schance felt something special.
“It was more than a flight. It was a camaraderie.”
Schance and his wife, Kathy, both veterans, are back in Roseville from a recent Honor Flight Bay Area trip on June 2 to Washington, D.C.
Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit organization that flies veterans to Washington, D.C., for free, to visit the memorials that were erected to honor their service and sacrifice.The first flight tour took twelve World War II veterans from Springfield, Ohio, to Washington, D.C., in 2005.
Honor Flight Bay Area has been serving veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2014. Already 100 veterans from the Sacramento area have had the opportunity to visit the monuments that line D.C.’s National Mall.
Both Schances served in the Marines during the Korean War and felt proud to reconnect with other veterans at the cluster of military memorials on the mall, recognizing troops from World War II to Vietnam.
“It was an experience every veteran should take,” John Schance said. “It was an emotional experience.”
He said he especially appreciated touring with a large group of veterans.
“Seeing the memorials, that’s one thing,” John said. “But when you see them with your cohorts, that makes it really special.”
John Schance served in the Marine Corps as a staff sergeant in the Korean War in 1951, and in Nevada from 1955 through 1957. Kathy Schance served as a sergeant stationed at the Pentagon’s Department of Aviation from 1952 to 1956.
After the war, Kathy Schance worked at Wells Fargo and as a real estate saleswoman. Her husband worked as an assistant director for the U.S. Air Force.
In 1954, Kathy Schance served as an usher at the Marine Corps Memorial. Last month, she had the opportunity to tour the memorial with the group.
“To go back and see it again was something I never thought I would ever get to do,” she said.
The highlight of the trip wasn’t even visiting the memorials, John Schance said – it was the sheer number of people lined up to welcome the veterans throughout the trip.
“Little children, 8 years old, came up to shake our hands,” he said. “Very emotional. All throughout the trip, I must’ve shaken over a thousand hands.”
“They couldn’t get up to you fast enough to say thanks and shake your hand,” Kathy Schance said. “That’s what was so touching.”
The couple thoroughly enjoyed the three-day trip. All expenses were paid, and John Schance joked that he spent only $20 on three beers throughout the entire trip.
The next tours for veterans in the Bay Area will take place Sept. 12-14 and Oct. 17-19.
To sign up for an Honor Flight for you or your loved one, go to www.honorflightbayarea.org/.