Nearly 70 years after Lewis Frongner worked with other military men and women to save the world and fought with valor in World War II, he took the trip of a lifetime to the memorial built in the veterans’ honor. On Thursday, Sept. 18, the Morgan resident joined 65 other veterans from around the state in taking a once- in-a-lifetime trip to the nation’s capital to see the World War II Memorial. The group of heroes joined together in a hangar at the Utah National Guard for a celebration before departing. The send-off ceremony was presented by Major General Jeffrey Burton, the Adjutant General Utah National Guard. Celebrate America Stardust Singers welcomed the veterans, and Governor Gary Herbert addressed the noteworthy group at the Salt Lake Airport before they embarked on their journey. The vets then enjoyed the red carpet treatment. Frongner said this was the first time he has ever ridden in a big airplane. While in flight the vets received a mail call just as they had years ago in the service. Their families had written letters before the flight to be handed out to the men and women being honored. From the red carpet beginning throughout the rest of the trip, they were treated like royalty. They were honored and celebrated everywhere they went, Frongner’s son Randy said. Randy accompanied his dad for the entire trip. Each vet was able to bring a companion called a guardian to experience the entire Honor Flight and provide support. Guardians fly with the veterans on every flight, providing assistance and helping veterans have a safe, memorable and rewarding experience, Utah Honor flight organization explains. Frongner enjoyed dinner at Knights of Columbus with the rest of the crowd and then a night bus tour of the city. On Friday, as the group took a four-hour tour of the National Mall, crowds of people would come over and shake their hand and thank them for their service, some even gave them hugs. At the World War II memorial that inspired the trip, they were presented with the Flag of Our Heroes ceremony. In addition to the World War II Memorial they also visited the Vietnam Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial and others as they walked for miles. Even after a tiring day of walking or riding in a wheelchair, the Frongners were grateful to be there and felt lucky to be part of this experience. The day also included a tour of the Air Force Memorial, where they observed the POW/MIA Recognition Ceremony. There they were met by General Mark Welch III, chief of staff of the United States Air Force. They visited the Marine Corp Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. The day concluded with a Heroes Banquet. Saturday morning they visited the Roosevelt Memorial and Fort McHenry before they took their flight back home. I enjoyed every bit of it, Frongner stated. He enjoyed the sights, the people, everything. He told his son,I feel like I’m the president or something! Randy had wanted to take his father to the memorial for years but never had a chance to do it. After taking the trip along with the other veterans, he decided this was an exceptionally amazing experience. He wasn’t just another tourist in Washington DC, he was treated like a VIP. With special dinners, presentations, ceremonies and more, it wasn’t just a trip to see a memorial, it was an event to honor heroes. For what you and your comrades have given to us, please consider this a small token of appreciation from all of us at Honor Flight Network, the Utah Honor Flight Organization stated. While the trip was extraordinary, Randy’s most touching moment was returning home and the fanfare the vets deserved and received. As the plane touched down they were given a double water cannon salute by two fire engines poised to honor the returning veterans. Randy described seeing 75 to 100 motorcyclists holding flags honoring the group of veterans leaving the airport. It was really overwhelming, he explained. The group of patriotic bikers joined police and firefighters as they escorted the veteran’s bus to one more celebration. An estimated 5,000 people lined up to cheer and show their support to the veterans as they passed in their tour bus. From beginning to end the group was heralded as The Greatest Generation and given credit for literally saving the world. It was really humbling, Frongner’s daughter Debbie stated of the events she was able to attend in Salt Lake before and after the trip. Roughly 200 of the 9,000 Utah WWII veterans have been able to participate with the Honor Flight program. Every day we are losing members of this heroic segment of our population to age and illness. Many around the state are working together to send these amazing vets on the trip they deserve for fighting for freedoms we enjoy today. If you would like to help the cause and donate, visit utahhonorflight.org for information. This program pays for 100 percent of the cost of the trip for the veterans. Frongner’s dream trip became a reality when a Hospice nurse got the ball rolling. Frongner’s daughter Judy was grateful for this nurse that pulled strings and jumped through hoops to make this once-in-a-lifetime trip happen for her dad. Randy feels like anyone with a family member who could participate should apply. If anyone has a vet that can travel, do whatever you can to get them on, Randy encouraged. Thank you, Lewis Frongner, for your dedicated service to the United States and the world. We are still enjoying the freedoms you fought so hard for when you were a young man. We are all very proud to have a veteran like you call Morgan home.
Please follow and like us: