Hudson Firefighter Heads to D.C. with Honor Flight

April 22, 2016

 

by Len Lathrop

Hudson Firefighter Marty Conlon was an escort on an Honor Flight out of Logan Airport Sunday morning.  The back story is important.  Marty and his dad, a Pearl Harbor survivor, had planned to take the trip together last year, but his dad passed away before the two could make the trip.

In honor of his dad and all the veterans who served in World War II, this Sunday he served as a guardian for World War II Navy veteran Charles Gray.

The Professional Firefighters of Hudson, Kingston Fire and the Manchester Airport Fire sponsored Marty by covering the fee for his flight that all guardians pay out of their own pocket.

The Professional Firefighters of Hudson, Kingston Fire and the Manchester Airport Fire sponsored Marty covering the fee for his flight.  A big thank you to Marty and Jeff Sands, the president of the PFFH, for their time and donations to honor these brave men and women who served and protected us in time of war.

In the spring of 2009, Honor Flight New England joined with the national organization Honor Flight Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring America’s most senior veterans.  Through generous donations, they transport our heroes to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect at their memorials at no cost to the veteran.  Top priority is currently given to the World War II veterans, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.  In the spring of 2016, Honor Flight New England also begins transporting Korean War veterans.

With approximately 500 World War II veterans dying each day and many Korean War veterans not being far behind in age, the time to express thanks to these brave men and women is running out.

The first flight was on June 13, 2009.  It was a humbling experience to be with these veterans on their maiden voyage to D.C.  Of those 50 veterans and guardians traveling with he group, on board were 14 World War II Prisoners of War and five World War II heroes, including one hero who lost his sight while serving his country.

If you want help continue to make veterans’ dream of visiting their memorials a reality, Honor Flight New England would like your help to be able to say to all U.S. veterans – one more tour with honor.

After the trip, Marty, shared thoughts about the day and the first word was emotional, while the World War II Memorial was the most exciting apart of the trip for these veterans, only surpassed by the interaction with the people who come out of everywhere to thank the veterans for their service and to express their gratitude for all the sacrifices they had made.

Marty mentioned that this was a way to honor his father and to pay it back to these veterans of the greatest generation.  He spoke of 90-year-old Navy veteran Charles Gray, who he had the privilege of being with; Gray had served on a ship in the Mediterranean during the war.  It also reminded Marty of his dad, who also was a career firefighter, serving in Lawrence, Mass., for 32 years after this service, who was wounded by a hand grenade.  But Marty, with a slightly more relaxed tone, explained that his father was discharged from the service as he had contacted malaria.  Marty mentioned that every veteran on the trip had a special story to tell.

A small glimpse that the public saw as the veterans and guardians moved to the airport gate was the emotion in everyone’s eyes, as the Patriot Guard lined the hallway with flags, and many ROTC members from several Boston colleges and universities shook hands with each veteran.  A band of horns played the different theme song from every branch of the military and almost every person had a tear in their eyes.