‘Honor Flight’ to be screened

Published 8:45 pm Saturday, April 13, 2013

By Susan Stone

Special to the News-Herald

One of the most heartwarming documentaries about World War II veterans will be shown at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts on Sunday, May 5 at 3 p.m.

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“Honor Flight” tells the story of four living World War II veterans and a Midwest community coming together to give them the trip of a lifetime. The screening is sponsored by Lake Prince Woods retirement community and Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, and admission is free. Reservations are encouraged and may be made by calling 923-0003 or visiting www.suffolkcenter.org for more information.

Honor Flight organizations take World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the military memorials. For some veterans, who are in their late 80s and early 90s, it’s often the first time they’ve been thanked for their military service, and for some it is the last big trip of their lives.

Matt Hartman, director of Honor Flight Historic Triangle Virginia, will introduce the movie and following the presentation will answer questions about the local Honor Flight organization and how veterans can apply to take the trip.

Local author Ben Plewes, will be signing copies of his books, “Suffolk’s Call to Arms” and “Oceans Apart,” before and after the movie.

The film features Orville Lemke, a former plumber and beloved father of nine, who fights to hold off terminal cancer so he can make the trip, and Julian Plaster, an 89-year-old poet who has survived almost all of his friends and family.

“Honor Flight” also chronicles the stories of veterans Joe Demler and Harvey Kurz. They raise money for and promote the Honor Flight program to help fly as many of their fellow veterans as possible. Joe, a soft-spoken retired postmaster, was famously pictured in “Life” magazine as “the Human Skeleton” upon his liberation from a German prisoner of war camp. Days from death, he weighed just 70 pounds. His comedic sidekick, Harvey, saw the iconic flag go up at the Battle of Iwo Jima, unbeknownst to the shoppers he bags groceries for at the local Pick n’ Save.

Many World War II veterans find it difficult to talk about the War, but the Honor Flight experience brings their stories out. Many veterans say, with the exception of their wedding day and the birth of their children, the trip is the best day of their life.

The Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit organization that has flown more than 100,000 veterans to Washington, D.C. It consists of 117 hubs across the country.