The month of September can bring about harsh memories for many American soldiers and families. Amidst all the pain and sadness, however, emerges opportunity and a chance to say thank you to some of our oldest veterans. Recently, some patriotic volunteers launched a wholesome program for Unites States veterans entitled Operation September Freedom. The move aims to put WWII veterans back behind the wheel of vintage military planes, honoring their bravery and sacrifice.
Operation September Freedom consists of a collection of volunteer pilots. CBS News most recently highlighted the milestone Dream Flight of WWII veteran Loren Helleckson. The outlet stated Helleckson spent his flight onboard a restored 1940s Stearman biplane. He participated as a way “to encourage others.”
At 98 years old, Helleckson rarely comes across fellow veterans his age. He said that the fact makes him feel old, though flying a biplane at 98 is no small feat, and Outsider applauds the U.S. veteran for both his military efforts and on his first Dream Flight.
The news outlet further shared that Pam Swan, vice president of military relations for Veterans United Home Loans, sees the move as a “race against time.”
With so many WWII vets approaching their late 90s and even centennial years, Swan said, “We see that we have a small window here to be able to say thank you.”
For Helleckson, it appears the flight helped in easing that feeling of old age. “What a wonderful flight,” he concluded.
A WWII Veteran Finally Finds the Author of a 2009 Thank You Letter
As aforementioned, so many of our WWII veterans are moving right along in their lives, achieving ages of 90 and upwards. Despite the decades since the infamous war, students around the country continue to spend many history classes learning about the sacrifices made by our beloved vets, often writing letters and cards each Veterans’ Day. One WWII vet, Frank Grasberger, finally met the author of one 2009 thank you letter and the footage from the pairs’ union is especially emotional.
Grasberger carried the letter with him since receiving it more than 10 years ago. He spent years searching for the letter’s author and finally, he found the not-so-little girl. The author, DeShauna Priest, was only 9 years old went she wrote her thank you letter, and Grasberger, in response, sent a card of his own back to the young girl.
Upon Priest’s arrival, Grasberger and his wife became incredibly emotional. “You’re not the girl,” he said in disbelief. “Don’t make me cry, please. Honest to God. Oh, I love you so much…You don’t know how long,” he drifted.
“I pray every night with this thing, I really do,” Grasberger said.
Priest became emotional too, sharing the card with the WWII veteran he had sent so long ago. Among so many contemporary tragedies and losses, tributes to our United States veterans hold so much more significance than we might ever realize.