‘Honor Flight’ to be screened

Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A heartwarming documentary about World War II veterans taking the trip of a lifetime will be shown at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts on May 5.

“Honor Flight” tells the story of four World War II veterans and a Midwest community that came together to help them take the flight. Honor Flight is a nonprofit network that transports veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit their war memorials.

The screening is being sponsored by Lake Prince Woods retirement community and the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, and admission is free. Reservations can be made by calling 923-0003 or visiting www.suffolkcenter.org.

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Lee “Jack” Ryals went on an Honor Flight to see the World War II memorial. He served in the U.S. Army with the 11th Airborne Division.

“We were preparing to jump on Japan if they hadn’t surrendered,” Ryals said. “I was very lucky I didn’t see any combat with the 11th Airborne.”

His trip to Washington, D.C., was a little less eventful but nonetheless meaningful. It wasn’t his first time seeing the memorials, but “there had been a lot of improvement on them since I first saw them,” he said.

“The trip was very enjoyable,” he added. “It was quite an experience. It was one of my military experiences that I’ll never forget.”

Ryals said he would highly recommend the trip for all eligible veterans. The organization gives priority to senior veterans or those with a terminal illness.

The film features Orville Lemke, a former plumber and father of nine who fights to hold off terminal cancer so he can make the trip; Julian Plaster, an 89-year-old poet who survived almost all of his friends and family; and Joe Demler and Harvey Kurz, who raise money for and promote the Honor Flight program to help fly as many of their fellow veterans as possible.

Demler, a retired postmaster, was pictured in “Life” magazine upon his liberation from a German prisoner of war camp. He weighed 70 pounds at the time. Kurz saw the iconic flag go up at the Battle of Iwo Jima.

At the May 5 event, Matt Hartman, director of Honor Flight Historic Triangle Virginia, will introduce the film and answer questions about the local Honor Flight organization following the movie. Local author Ben Plewes will sign copies of his books, “Suffolk’s Call to Arms” and “Oceans Apart,” before and after the movies.

To learn more about Honor Flight, visit www.honorflight.org. For more information about the film, visit www.honorflightmovie.com.