Honor Flight gives vets heroes’ welcome home


They served during different conflicts and in very different times, but for Korean War-era veteran Robert
Kohl and Vietnam veteran David Madaras, Honor Flight provided a way to recognize both of their services
to the United States.
"It’s really an experience to go through," said Kohl, Perrysburg, who served in the U.S. Army,
of Honor Flight Northwest Ohio. The group undertook its penultimate trip taking veterans to Washington,
D.C., on Wednesday. The final Honor Flight Northwest Ohio excursion will be in October.
Kohl entered the reserves in 1950, and was drafted into the Army in 1953. After training at Fort Knox,
Kentucky, and Ft. Louis, Washington, he was shipped out to Korea. There, he undertook what he described
as guard duty and other assignments.
The boat trip to Korea from the west coast took 18 days, he recalled.
"I was over there from August of 1953 until the latter part of November in ’54. I got home just
before Christmas."
The return trip was 14 days, he said.
Madaras, Pemberville, also served in the Army, and was drafted in 1971 and served for a year. He served
in Vietnam and "was out in the bush, so to speak."
His platoon would often undertake missions out in the country that could last days – on one occasion,
they were out for nearly two weeks.
"We looked pretty grubby coming back after that," he said.
He also recalled a Viet Cong fighter who snuck into the base and detonated a pack of explosives the night
before he was to leave for home.
"I liked the Korean War Memorial," said Kohl of the Honor Flight trip, "and also the
changing of the guards of the unknown soldier, there. That is really something to see."
He additionally appreciated the enthusiastic reception they received upon arriving back at the airport –
he estimated that 1,000 friends, family and well-wishers greeted them.
Madaras also noted his appreciation for the monuments that the group got to tour.
"It was really poignant. The big thing there is freedom is not free."
Their arrival back at the airport Wednesday evening also touched him.
"Here was the kind of welcome that, 42 years ago, I never got," said Madaras.

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