By Patrick Martin, Brendan Hickey, Yunfei Zhao
On April 13, Honor Flight Chicago took 101 veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials commemorating their service. The program was developed to fly World War II Veterans from around the country to their memorial. This is the first flight from Chicago to include veterans of the Korean War.
“If I was called to go back to the military I’d be happy to do it, even though I’m 85 years old,” said Italo Bove, who served in Korea. He was an infantryman and cook in Korea after being drafted in 1953.
Those who served in Korea recognize that they didn’t receive the same welcome home that World War II vets received just years earlier.
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“You got home and everybody had the same thought – ‘you guys weren’t in a war, you’re cops. You were in a police action,’” said Bruno Bobrowski. He joined the Army in 1951 and helped clear mine fields in Korea.
For Bobrowski, visiting the Korean War Veterans memorial was a difficult experience. “I don’t want to see it any more,” he said, holding back tears. “I think about my buddies.”
The veterans received a hero’s welcome back in Chicago. Hundreds of family, friends and other supporters packed into the baggage claim area to cheer for the returning vets. The Korean War Veterans in the group waited 62 years for this welcome home.
Honor Flight Chicago estimates there are 53,000 WW II and Korean War veterans living in the Chicagoland area. The non-profit group offers the flights free of charge to eligible veterans, relying on donations and the work of hundreds of volunteers to make the flights possible.