December 4, 2015: On this beautiful Colorado day, RMHF holiday gathering luncheon was held to welcome and honor once again, all of the Veterans who journeyed to Washington, DC in 2015. Many new and old friends joined together for music, food, and conversation, including sharing the memories created on their scheduled trips. When attending a Rocky Mountain Honor Flight event, there is a community that is created between Veterans, family members, RMHF volunteers, and other’s who participate. It is a privilege to dialogue with the generation that molded a nation.
Mr. Sonny Coleman, a WWII Navy Veteran, grew up in Denver and attended South High School. When asked why he choose the Navy, he said his best friend, Dick Gomez was going into the Navy. Mr. Gomez joined when his brother was killed in Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941 aboard the USS Arizona. They joined together in hopes of maintaining their friendship while traveling overseas. Sonny Coleman said he thoroughly enjoyed his trip with RMHF, and was glad he was able to attend.
In case you are not familiar with this organization and what it stands for, Rocky Mountain Honor Flight’s mission is to give WWII Veterans in the Rocky Mountain Region the opportunity to visit the National WWII Memorial, located in Washington DC. www.rockymountainhonorflight.org
Mr. Harry Waters, originally hails from Tulsa, OK. He is a WWII Army and Air Force Communications Veteran. One of his stations was in Guam. He stated his trip to Washington, D.C was outstanding, including his roommate (Bob Matterson), during his stay in D.C. He was enjoying the RMHF holiday gathering and being able to talk with some of the other Veterans who attended. Spending time visiting with Mr. Waters and others who participated in this event, truly cements the reasons why these trips to D.C. are vital, not only to these brave Americans, but for future generations. Their stories/memories ignite a sense of purpose in our history, which includes the sacrifices that were made in order to have our existing freedom. It is only right to show them gratitude.
Four trips to Washington D.C. are scheduled per year. According to RMHF Cliff Fejfar, “twenty-six trips have been made so far.”
Mr. Robert Matterson is originally from Iowa. He is pictured here with his lovely wife, Dee. He was in the Navy Reserves aboard the battleship, USS New Jersey. The USS New Jersey is also known as, BB-62; “Big J” or Black Dragon, which earned the most battle stars in combat. Of course, I did not learn this from Bob Matterson. I had to research the information since none of these heroes tend to discuss or want attention for the brave actions that were carried out in order for freedom to prevail. Perhaps that is the greatest challenge that RMHF faces. Since this generation does not seek recognition, the clock is ticking to locate and organize them for these D.C. trips. Donations are needed in order to escort these aging Veterans while they can still make the journey to the memorials that were created for their generation.
Perhaps one of the most vital components of RMHF is the staff which makes up their all-volunteer organization. Janet Johnson (left) shared why she is ready and willing to participate. “My Dad was a WWII Army Medic. He never had the opportunity to take one of these wonderful trips. He would of loved it! So, I volunteer in his honor.” Her father’s name, Corporal Ervin A. Bagley. He landed on Utah Beach nine+ days after D-Day.
Daral Willeford, (right) was the person who invited Janet Johnson to get involved with RMHF. Ms. Willeford has been on board since 2010. She states, “this is the best non-paying job I ever had. I am passionate about our Veterans. If it wasn’t for them, we would not be here to enjoy our freedom today. They are truly our heroes.”
Witnessing all the volunteers from the RMHF team waiting on, and mingling with our/their Veterans is heartwarming. Between Mary Denise Haddon, Cliff Fejfar, and Nurse Judy Gorham and the rest of the staff, they covered the room with friendship and laughter.
Other contributors which made this day a success: St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, 9203 S. University Blvd., Highlands Ranch, CO. They have graciously opened their doors for this annual RMHF event. And, the 4th Infantry Division Band, “Iron Brass.” Also included in adding to the festive holiday music was: “Hipstra Mama’s.”
Thank you to all of the volunteers who are behind the scene, making these trips continue to happen.
Most of all to our Veterans: THANK YOU AND YOUR FAMILY FOR THE SACRIFICES YOU MADE FOR OUR FREEDOM!