7th Honor Flight Northland set to take off next weekend

By KBJR News 1

May 29, 2014 Updated May 29, 2014 at 7:33 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - 82-Year-Old Sergeant Tony Jurek of Cloquet spent much of the Korean War in prison.

"The Chinese came in in late November and overpowered two divisions. They came in and surrounded them, they did whatever they thought they could do," Jurek recalled.

For 33 months he lived in primitive conditions.

"We were held up in some type of man-made caves and the only water we had was a part of a stream that happened to be flowing by," he said.

Now 64 years later, Sgt. Jurek is one of dozens of war heroes who will be honored for their service during a day-long trip to the nation's capital on Honor Flight Northland.

"At first it was to honor them, now it's become more than that. It's become a way for them to heal, to be with people that had the same experiences they have, it's just a good thing," said Judy Greske, who helps organize the flight.

The journey of a lifetime gives Veterans the chance to visit their memorials in Washington, D.C.

This latest flight comes just three years after the first.

"I had questioned whether the first flight would get off the ground so to be our 7th flight, when you get to the point you can't remember what happened on what flight," Greske said.

The price tag is $90,000 per flight, but the memories are priceless.

"Here is the changing of the guard. That is really something. You could have heard a pin drop, it was so quiet," World War II veteran Ernie Johnson said as he paged through his photo album.

Johnson can't put down the album from the third Honor Flight.

He admits it took some convincing before he agreed to go. "Flying and me don't agree," he said.

The Honor Flight is a chance of a lifetime all packed into less than 24 hours.

"It's a long day, but they seem to be energized by the day, so, nobody is sleeping on the way home," Greske said.

Thanks to donations from the community and a number of groups, the Honor Flights are free for Veterans. However, donations are needed to make another flight possible .

Honor Flight Northland website

The seventh flight takes off Saturday, June 7th.

Written by Kevin Jacobsen
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