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The Dansville Online
  • Nunda community learns about local Honor Flights

  • Veterans Day seemed to extend into the middle of the week as Nunda Historical Society hosted Steve Rapp for its monthly program on Nov. 14.



    Rapp is a lifelong Nunda resident who has volunteered to attend eight trips with the Rochester hub of Honor Flight Network. His service includes four times as a guardian, twice as an assistant trip leader and twice as trip leader.

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  • Veterans Day seemed to extend into the middle of the week as Nunda Historical Society hosted Steve Rapp for its monthly program on Nov. 14.
    Rapp is a lifelong Nunda resident who has volunteered to attend eight trips with the Rochester hub of Honor Flight Network. His service includes four times as a guardian, twice as an assistant trip leader and twice as trip leader.
    Last year, Rapp received the Legacy award as volunteer of the year from Rochester-based Legacy Senior Living Center for his service with Rochester Honor Flight.
    Honor Flight is a nation-wide program that honors veterans by providing a free trip to Washington, D.C., to visit their memorials.
    World War II veterans and veterans with terminal illnesses are given preference for attending flights.
    Trips through Rochester’s hub are the only ones east of the Mississippi River that accommodates veterans over night. Others on the east coast make the trip and back in one day.
    Rochester’s hub also makes it a point to give Honor Flight veterans a hero’s welcome when they return to Rochester airport. Not all hubs do that.
    The Nunda presentation began with honoring veterans who were present for the program. Out of about 40 people who attended altogether, roughly a dozen were veterans of various military branches who served anywhere from World War II through to Afghanistan.
    Four students in Sarah Prinzi’s Keshequa Middle School History Club gave their appreciation to veterans through reading poems, one accompanied by a power point presentation, and through handing out boquets to the veterans, some to family members of veterans of whom were not in attendance, from the historical society.
    Being that the presentation happened in the historical society museum, Rapp began his roughly hour-long discussion with the historical significance of America’s involvement in World War II, and that the Allies won the war because of America’s help.
    “World War II was the big deal of the 20th century,”?Rapp said. Some 16 million Americans entered the war, and Rapp noted that none came back home quite the same.
    As such, veterans organizations began, and 60 years later, Honor Flight developed.
    Honor Flight started with Earl Morse, a physician’s assistant in an Ohio Veteran’s Affairs clinic, who decided to take some of his aging World War II patients to Washington, D.C., to visit their newly-opened World War II memorial.
    A licensed pilot, Morse and others in a local aeroclub flew the veterans in their own personal planes, two at a time, for free.
    Page 2 of 2 - That was in 2005. From there, an organized Honor Flight Network was born, and local hubs spread across the country using commercial flights.
    Rochester’s hub began in 2008, and the following year, Rapp volunteered as a guardian to chaperone Nunda resident and World War II veteran John Osjca.
    Rapp’s presentation included a brief video from the Rochester hub trips, which included testimonies from the veterans and Rapp himself. He also shared stories from the trips and war stories that Nunda veterans shared with him during the honor flights, some of whom have since passed.
    He said the flights have been a way for him to pay it forward to the service the veterans gave for our country, and in exchange have been a form of therapy for the veterans, some of whom have kept their traumatic experiences bottled up inside for decades.
    “It’s not a trip, it’s more like a pilgrimage,” Rapp said about the reason why veterans go.
    He said he loves what he’s doing, and he’s planning on continuing his service to honor veterans in this way, calling it an addiction.
    As roughly 1,000 American World War II veterans die each day, Honor Flight is considering adding Korean veterans to its preferential list, perhaps as soon as next year.
    While guardians pay $300 per trip, all flights are free to veterans. It costs the Rochester hub about $30,000 to pull off an overnight trip for a plane-full of about 45 veterans.
    To donate to Honor Flight, checks may be sent to Honor Flight at P.O. Box 23581, Rochester, NY 14692.
     

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