Special to The Gardner News
Robert Paulsen, a resident of ComfortCare Homes of Baldwin City participated in the Kansas Honor Flight along with his son Bob Paulsen, of Olathe, Kan., last month.
The mission of Kansas Honor Flight is to send Kansas war veterans to visit the War Memorials in Washington D.C. Paulsen, 87, is a World War II Army Infantry veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
Each veteran is accompanied on the trip by a “guaradian” and in this case Paulsen was pleased to share the experience with his son Bob who made the arrangements.
Participants had a two-hour tour of the war memorials and witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. They were greeted by former Kansas Senator Bob Dole, also a WWII veteran who has met veterans from some 170 Honor Flights from across the nation. Senator Jerry Moran from Kansas also greeted the Honor Flight participants on this trip.
A walking tour of Ft. McHenry was one of the highlights. The Smithsonian National Air and Space museum was a favorite for the Paulsens as they viewed the WWII era Enola Gay aircraft and other exhibits.
Bob Paulsen commented that school children on field trips regularly came up to his father, shook his hand and thanked him for his service. “It was like a reception line with school teachers explaining to their students that the men in red T-shirts are WWII veterans.” Bob also remarked that several middle school-age girls asked to have a photo taken with Robert.
Honor Flight participants were recognized at a banquet, and were honored with letters from family and friends writing to thank them for their service, a regular event on the flights known as “mail call.” The veterans had assistance from Honor Flight volunteers at the airports and were able to pass quickly through security checkpoint lines. Each participant received a quilted pillow case created by one of the guardians that carried the theme of the veteran’s service branch.
Bob Paulsen commented that the trip was well organized by Kansas Honor Flight, and that he plans to commemorate the trip with a hard-cover photo album using Shutterfly.
With a few days’ rest from the event, Robert Paulsen is glad he went on the flight, stating that “we did a lot of sitting in cars and buses, but you never know when it might be your last trip.”
Those who know Paulsen suspect that other adventures lie in store for this honorable and remarkable man.