WICHITA, Kansas – The soldier returning home has always been one of the more moving ceremonies for military men and women. For 101-year-old army veteran Bernard Head, he’s getting another ceremony to remember.
“Our military is as vital as ever,” says Head. “In this day and age, we have to have a strong military.”
Head is one of a couple of dozen men and women coming home to Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport this weekend. The Kansas Honor Flight program flew them out to get a look at Washington, D.C. to remember.
At 101, Head remembers it all so well. He survived World War II and the Battle of the Bulge.
“Well, I was in the artillery. Field artillery in Germany and Austria,” recalls Head. “Driving forward, they broke through. And then, we got word that came down to us, to hold at any costs. Sit on your butts and die at the spots you are in. Draw your guns and sit there and wait.”
Head survived. Many others did not.
Those are the kinds of stories driving the Kansas Honor Flight group to fly veterans to our nation’s capital.
“This is just a great day,” says Kansas Honor Flight organizer Herb Duncan. “Look at their faces. Some of these veterans are in tears.”
Duncan is a Navy veteran himself, and says it’s vital we tell the stories of those who have supported the freedoms we enjoy.
“Take the time to grab a video camera and sit down with their loved one and talk to them and let them share their memories of their family bringing them up and their time in service and what they did,” implores Duncan. “Because they’re coming to the sunset of their time.”
Head looked weary as he was greeted on his trip home to a water cannon salute over his incoming flight on the tarmac.
“It’s fun to watch all this,” says Head. “The weather in Washington (D.C.) was a bit rainy. But this is great. I got a chance to wear my uniform all day yesterday. Not wearing it today. Today, you get the suit.”
Clad in his suit jacket, Head moves his cane aside to reveal an American flag.
“Let me tell you, it’s nice that people do this,” says Head. “It’s nice to remember. I still consider myself an army man. I never really retired. Not in my heart. Not in here.”