UTNAM COUNTY — Five Putnam County veterans took a special trip on
Tuesday, June 3. They were part of the Flag City Honor Flight hub that
flew to Washington D.C. to visit numerous veterans memorials, Arlington
Cemetery and the Air Force Museum.
Taking the trip were World War
II veterans George Hellman, Fort Jennings and James Baxter, Pandora; and
Korean veterans Bert Diemer, Ottawa; Urban Lauf, Ottawa; and Vince
Westrick, Miller City.
“Everywhere we went people were thanking us for our service,” said Baxter. “Adults and kids would come up and shake our hands.”
enjoyed the whole thing,” said Lauf. “It was overwhelming when we
returned to the hanger at the Toledo airport. They had a ceremony and so
many people to welcome us home. It was a very emotional moment.”
men left from Findlay with an escort of law enforcement to the Toledo
Airport. Prior to boarding the plane the veterans were given breakfast
and a special ceremony. The veterans were then flown to Baltimore
Airport where they boarded buses and were first taken to the World War
II Memorial. The veterans also visited the Korean Memorial and Vietnam
‘They had a guardian for each veteran,” said Diemer. His
guardian, Ann Bosse, Findlay, is the niece of Hellman, who was also on
“She was great,” said Diemer. “She has done this before
and her own daughter Nicole Bosse also went along as a
“Everything was outstanding,” Diemer said.
While at the Vietnam wall he looked up an Ottawa veteran who had died in
the Vietnam war.
“Every where we stopped there were soldiers and
sailors coming up to greet us and thank us,” said Hellman. He said he
had mixed emotions about going there since he had been there before, but
acknowledged this was a trip he will never forget.
“When we returned to Toledo there was about 500-600 people there to greet us,” he said. “it was amazing.”
Brinkman said the last time he was to Washington D.C. the World War II monument was under construction and boarded up.
“This time I got to see the monument,” he said. “I really appreciate what everyone did. They were such a nice bunch of people.”
Baxter said the mail call that was held upon their return to Toledo was a surprising and special conclusion to the trip.
the veterans got a canvas bag filled with special things and messages
people had sent in,” he said. He found out the Honor Flight staff
contacts friends and family members of the veterans to request letter.
Baxter said he received letters from former students and friends. “It
was so unexpected,” he said. “It was very special.”
Flight is conducted by non-profit organizations dedicated to
transporting as many United States Military veterans as possible to see
the memorials of the respective war(s) they fought in Washington, D.C.
at no cost to the veterans. The veterans on the honor flights are
escorted by volunteer guardians, who help them on the flight and around