Korean War veterans from Chicago take Honor Flight to capital

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For the first time veterans of the Korean War took a trip to the nation's capital on an honor flight. (WLS)

For the first time veterans of the Korean War took a trip to the nation's capital on an honor flight.

The trip gives these men some recognition and appreciation for their service to their country.

Dick Block has waited years for this day to come, as have others. Dick is part of a group of veterans of the Korean War on their way to Washington D.C. to see and to touch the memorial to their service in a faraway land 60 years ago.

"They came home and said 'I just came back from the war,' and some of them were told, 'Wasn't that a police conflict?'" says Mary Pettinato of Honor Flight Chicago.

That's not how the veterans see it. Block was in his early twenties when arrived in Korea. Assigned as a forward observer, he was captured by Chinese forces. His mother was informed by telegram that her son was a prisoner of war. Block would remain a captive for 968 days.

"I was down to about 75 - 80 pounds from about 115. To get up off the floor, I had to hand climb up the wall," he remembers.

But he never lost faith. He came home without fanfare. The fanfare came today.

After years of flying World War II veterans to the nation's capital, this is the first Honor Flight Chicago to include Korean War vets. 60 of the 101 today.

"So your day has come. My day has come. I'm looking forward to it with as much joy as I can have," Block says.

The Honor Flight, for many, is a key to unlocking the past. It's a powerful combination of memories, recognition and thanks, too often previously forgotten.

"It's something I look forward to when I first applied," Block says. "The dream came true and I'm living it and I'm very happy with it."

He was a young prisoner of war who could not have imagined then standing at this memorial six decades later. For Dick Block and many others, it is a very good day.
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societyveteranshonor flightu.s. & worldWashington D.C.
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