Father, son to see memorials in their honor during Freedom Honor Flight

Veterans from the region will be going on the trip of a lifetime. The 23rd Freedom Honor Flight will bring 95 veterans to visit memorials built in Washington, D.C. in their honor Saturday.

Volunteers spent Friday setting up the hangar. A send-off program is scheduled for 6 a.m. at Colgan Air Service hangar four at the La Crosse Regional Airport.

A welcome home celebration is planned for 9 p.m. Saturday. Family, friends and the public are invited to both celebrations.

Some family members won’t just be seeing the veterans off on their trip, they’ll be going with. Each of the veterans has a “guardian”, someone who is there to help them through the visit to D.C.

Out of the 26 Korean War and 63 Vietnam War veterans on the flight, two of them already share an incredibly close bond. When father and son Jack and Terry Hammond take off, they’ll be seeing memorials in honor of both of them.

Jack Hammond was drafted to the United States Army, serving in Korea in 1952 and 1953.

“It’s an experience. I’d like to see everyone go through it if they could,” Hammond said.

He was attached to a group with the Air Force repairing airstrips.

“We enjoyed it. I enjoyed it all the time. It was all a learning experience.”

He finished up his service with the military and returned back to the United States. It wasn’t until decades later, that his son followed in his footsteps — literally.

“He served in Korea at that time. So he ended up back in Korea like I was.”

His son, Terry Hammond, served in the Army, just like his dad. While he served during the Vietnam War, he was stationed in Korea.

“I was glad he had some of the same service training that I did and some of the experience I did.”

Since Terry Hammond served during the Vietnam War, he could sign up to go on his own Freedom Honor Flight.

“Any time now, because there are quite a few of the Vietnam people in this group, too.”

But there’s only going to be one trip that father and son could go on together.

“He’s been pushing me to go for a long time. He’s anxious to go with me and I think it should be a good trip. We’ll enjoy it together I’m sure,” Jack Hammond said.

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