Upper Peninsula Vietnam, Korean War veterans take ‘Honor Flight’ to Washington

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 2:41 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A group of veterans from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula traveled to Washington Wednesday to visit the memorials built in their honor. 78 veterans on the flight set out to tour the war memorials on the National Mall.

“It’s just wonderful. It’s a wonderful thing to see,” said Ernest LaFave, a Korean War veteran. “Just blows my mind to see how beautiful this is.”

LaFave says he was in camp in Arkansas when they called his name. He was sent to post-World War II Germany instead of Korea, which was a fortunate deployment in his eyes.

“Uncle Sam just called my name and had a goal,” said LaFave.

They called this trip Mission XX for the U.P. Honor Flight. It was the twentieth time veterans from the area got the chance to see memorials erected in their honor.

Mark Kleiman was one of the 76 Vietnam veterans on the trip. An imposing wall of names greeted the Navy veteran and his daughter. It was the Vietnam Memorial wall which honors those who died, more than 58,000.

“I know a lot of memories are coming back for a lot of guys that served. You know, it gets emotional,” said Kleiman.

Using pencil and paper, Kleiman’s daughter carbon-copied the name of one of Mark’s neighbors who died just a few weeks into his Vietnam deployment. Kleiman says he plans to give the piece of paper to his late neighbor’s brother.

“I remember when he lost his life. I see his brother all the time so I thought I’d like to, you know, get that and give it to him,” said Kleiman.

The U-P Honor Flight arrived back in Michigan Wednesday night.