Honor Flight sharpens focus on our debt to those who served

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WOWT) -- The Memorial Day weekend serves a somber reminder of our debt to America’s veterans and that reminder was focused ever sharper Friday morning as 181 veterans and Gold Star families boarded an Honor Flight to the nation’s Capital in honor of those who died for our country.

This was the 13th such Flight of Honor for Nebraska over the years. Our Brian Mastre made the trip with them aboard the Nebraska Purple Heart Honor Flight - first stop: Arlington National Cemetery.

The plane touched down at Reagan National and the journey never gets old for those who have been here before.

A number of Flights of Honor come in every week and every week, every flight, a dedicated group of volunteers and strangers arrive to say thank you, offering handshakes and hugs.

Gold Star widow Rhonda Robinson of Omaha said, “I was surprised and honored to see so many people there to greet us. The welcome was powerful."

Punctuating the somber scene at Arlington National Friday – 50,000 flags placed in memory of the fallen. Among those being remembered: Omaha’s Chris Allgaier who died piloting a helicopter in Afghanistan in 2007, a target of the Taliban. Chris was 33.

His father, Bob Allgaier, said, “I do miss him.”

Bob met with his daughter at Arlington for a family moment and placed a graveside rose in his son’s memory.

“You know, I still think about him every day,” Bob said. “And I also – sometimes I even talk to him.”

Three years after Chris Allgaier’s death is service to country, a portion of 111th and Jackson where Chris grew up was named for him.

The Gold Star kids on Friday’s flight range in age 5 to 39. There are vets from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

If you want to be part of the homecoming, that will unfold Friday night. It had initially been planned between 8:30 and 9 p.m. at 10th and Jackson with a parade to the Durham Museum – the final steps on a day of remembrance. The flight has been delayed. The parade is now expected to begin between 10 and 10:30.