The fifth Honor Flight of Southern Illinois gave 85 veterans the chance to visit, and Lee Jett and Lee Borowiak of Nashville were two of the selected former servicemen to board.
The trip was held on Tuesday, May 14. The flight began at 4 a.m., and the journey included stops at the various memorials in the nation’s capital as well as the Arlington National Cemetery, where the veterans and their caregivers got to witness the change of the guard.
“It was wonderful,” Borowiak said.
The trip was funded through a generous donation by Mary Neil Chew, who gave $93,000 so that the veterans would be accommodated for the flight.
For Borowiak, the trip came with a special surprise: a visit from his grandson Jon Habbe, who is at the naval base in Virginia Beach. He also got the chance to reminisce with a high school friend from Centralia who was also an honored guest on the flight.
In addition to seeing the sites, the veterans and caregivers received a special dinner and mail call. The letters were written by various people and school children telling the veterans how much they mean to them and appreciate them.
On the return flight home, each veteran descended from the plane down the corridor to thousands of well-wishes and welcome home cheers. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and members of the community gave the veterans applause.
“There were all types of people cheering for us,” Jett said. “In a way I was kind of surprised that there were so many people.”
“It made you feel great,” Borowiak said. “It kind of brings tears to your eyes.”
“I think it is a great honor to take these fellas,” Borowiak’s daughter and caregiver during the flight Sara Habbe said. “It’s like a payback. They really truly enjoyed all the places visited.”
Habbe said she was glad she was able to share this experience with her father.
“It was a privilege to go on that honor flight,” Habbe said. “To honor all these veteran soldiers.”
“It was just wonderful that people thought of us,” Borowiak said.