Honor Flight Northern Colorado shows gratitude for veterans’ service | MyWindsorNow.com
Trevor Reid
treid@greeleytribune.com

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Honor Flight Northern Colorado shows gratitude for veterans’ service

Help veterans see their memorials

Honor Flight Northern Colorado covers all transportation, meals and overnight accommodations for veterans to see the veteran memorials in Washington, D.C. It costs about $1,000 for each veteran. The costs are covered by tax-deductible donations.

To make a donation, checks can be made out to “Honor Flight Northern Colorado” or “HFNC” and sent to HFNC, P.O. Box 363, Ault, CO 80610. Or go to HonorFlightNorthernColorado.org and click “Donate.”

Richard Crum was shipped off to England during World War II after training for just a little more than a month.

"I didn't have much training — right foot, left foot and all that," he said.

Crum, 94, joined 122 other veterans on the Honor Flight on Sunday morning. The Honor Flight's mission is to take every veteran to see the veterans' memorials in Washington, D.C. The two-day trip began with a ceremony in Loveland at the Embassy Suites, 4705 Clydesdale Parkway.

Stan Cass, president of Honor Flight Northern Colorado, said this flight is of special importance because the veterans will be visiting the memorials on V-E Day, or Victory in Europe Day. The veterans also will meet with Vice President Mike Pence at the White House.

"It will definitely be the Honor Flight of all time," Cass said.

Crum, a resident of Thornton, said the reason he was shipped off with so little training was because of a mix-up with one of his brothers who also was serving at the time. Before shipping off, he was called into the command car, where he was asked what he was doing there.

"I really don't know," he recalled saying. "My name was called, and I'm shipping out."

He was then told they had records for his brother, but not him. Since he was already there, they sent off for his records, and pretty soon he was in England. He helped build an airbase in Royston before going to the invasion of France. He got to Würzburg, Germany, when May 8, 1945 came. The war was over in Europe, after the Allies accepted Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender.

As Crum and his company were packing up to go home, they were notified they would be going to Japan, where the war continued.

"About that time, we were getting really ready to go, and they dropped the atomic bomb. Then we didn't have to go. We came home," Crum said.

Herman Raedy, 96, went on the first Honor Flight Northern Colorado in 2008. The Greeley resident has returned to help send off veterans for the bi-annual flight ever since, missing only two flights in those nine years.

"It's a trip that you'll never forget, at least I won't," Raedy said. "I've never felt so honored in my life. Everywhere you went, 'Thank you for your service. Thank you for your service.' "

Even at the Embassy Suites, the phrase could already be heard everywhere. Friends, family and volunteers went around shaking hands and showing their gratitude from the moment veterans arrived until they were off to Denver, where the flight takes off.

Kathy Thousand, a Loveland resident, got her family together to send off her father-in-law, Bill Thousand. As the veterans packed into the buses, a young girl held up a sign, "We love you Grandpa Bill."

"If it weren't for men like Bill and our troops, we wouldn't have our freedoms that we have today," Kathy said. "Sometimes they're just forgotten, and I don't think we should ever do that."

The Patriot Guard Riders of Colorado also showed up Sunday morning to give the veterans an honorable send-off. Patriot Guard Riders lined the entrance to the Embassy Suites holding American flags.

The motorcycle group is the official escort of the Honor Flight. This year, a record number of riders led the buses carrying the veterans from Loveland all the way down to Denver.

"It's all about (the veterans)," said Patriot Guard Rider Rick Shoaf. "They sacrificed more than we ever did."

Crum said it's truly a privilege to be a World War II veteran.

"Regardless of what anybody tells you, we were there not only for you people, we were there for ourselves and our family. That's what kept us going," he said.

"We wanted a free country."