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Area veterans take trip to nation’s capital

‘Impressive’ visit, honor

More than a dozen local veterans with their guardians and friends took part in a trip to the nation’s capital — one that had been pushed back several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The trip — part of the Honor Flight Networked aimed at flying military veterans for free to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials — was assisted on the local level by the Fenton History Center’s Vets Finding Vets program. The flight took place Oct. 9 and marked the first such venture from the Buffalo-Niagara hub in 18 months, said Barb Cessna, Fenton History Center Vets Finding Vets program coordinator.

Three previous flights had been canceled due to the pandemic.

Sites visited during the most recent trip included memorials for World War II, Korea and Vietnam; the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; Arlington National Cemetery; the Military Women’s Memorial; the Washington Monument; the Lincoln Memorial; and the Jefferson Memorial.

The following veterans made the trip:

Submitted photos Dale Furman, left, and Jim Farrell are pictured in Washington, D.C., during an Honor Flight trip that began Oct. 9. More than a dozen local veterans and their guardians and friends were part of the trip. Below, Bill Ross and Lenny Graves are pictured during the recent trip, the first to occur in 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

¯ Bill Ross (Navy) and friend Lenny Graves (Marines).

“My favorite part was the overall patriotism and students saluting and fist-bumping with vets,” Ross said.

Added Graves, “The Changing of the Guard and wreath laying ceremonies were my favorites.”

¯ Art Purol (Army) and son Dick Purol.

“I was so impressed with the organization involved that enabled us to see so much in a short amount of time,” Art Purol said.

¯ Bill Christ (Army) and friend Vince Luce.

“I loved the clapping of kids and adults, the ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the fire hose salute and the bagpipes,” Christ said.

¯ Charlie Mason (Navy) and daughter Peggy Milbrandt.

“I will always remember the respect paid to vets through the whole Honor Flight, and the cards from adults and students is so humbling,” Mason said.

¯ Alden Smith (Army Air Corps) and daughter Darana Edmondson.

“I’ll always remember having pictures taken with other World War II veterans at the World War II Memorial and the bagpipe parade out of the airport,” Smith said.

¯ Jim Farrell (Marines) and Dale Furman (Marines).

“My favorites are the Iwo Jima Marine Memorial, the Korea Memorial, and seeing Marine John Glenn’s grave in Arlington Cemetery,” Farrell said.

Added Furman, “My top three favorite memories are the airport welcome, the Iwo Jima Marine Memorial, and the WWII Memorial.”

¯ Ed Yaegle (Army) new friend Dave Kaetzel (Marines).

“I loved seeing the 150 kids from Columbus, Ohio, saying thank you. The Changing of the Guard was very impressive,” Yaegle said.

Added Kaetzel, “My favorite part was sharing stories and memories with Ed of our times in the service. Our patriotism and love for our country is a strong bond that can’t be broken.”

The Fenton History Center launched its Vets Finding Vets program on Nov. 11, 2014, as a way to honor current veterans, “because soldiers and veterans have been welcome in the Fenton Mansion since 1865,” Cessna said. “Gov. Fenton himself became colonel of the 162nd New York state Militia in 1840, and as a representative of Congress during the Civil War he held many town rallies in order to muster troops for New York state.

“When the city of Jamestown purchased the Fenton Mansion in 1919, it became a Soldier and Sailor Memorial. Many veteran groups and patriotic organizations held their meetings and events in the Mansion for many years until the Fenton Historical Society was born in 1963.”

Cessna said Fenton hosts veteran events, social gatherings, document past and present veterans of Chautauqua County, and offer help with Honor Flight applications as a way to continue the Fenton Legacy. “I am very indebted to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation for grants which fund my planning hours,” she said.

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