Vet prepares for Honor Flight with trip down memory lane

18th Freedom Honor Flight takes off Saturday

The latest Freedom Honor Flight takes off early Saturday, and one West Salem veteran is looking forward to making some memories. But first, he’s looking back at some of his old ones.

Wayne Lundell served in the Korean War and is decorated with medals, including a Purple Heart.

Lundell’s memory lane winds through places many of us will never see.

“It was no picnic,” he said about going off to war. “Especially when you’re 18 years old.”

However, by pulling out his memorabilia for the first time in a long while, the former Marine has many stories that can take us there.

“Well there’s a lot of memories, because at the Chosin Reservoir it was 38 below zero,” he said. “We weren’t dressed for it, so a lot of my friends and stuff like that are still over there.”

Lundell’s memories, and others’, of Chosin Reservoir now live on in history as one of the most brutal battles of the Korean War.

He will never forget how the enemy soldiers attacked every night.

“There were bugles blowing and the Chinese came in. Holy Moses,” Lundell said. “I went from 180 pounds down to 97.”

Lundell said his colonel at the time, Chesty Puller — the most decorated Marine in American history — helped his men do something they didn’t think possible – get out alive.

“If it wouldn’t have been for this guy here, we wouldn’t have,” he said.

Lundell calls Puller his hero, and said he taught him a lot.

“How to survive,” he said. “He was a survivor.”

Lundell’s journey through memory lane now takes him to one final stop where he was stationed so many years ago: Washington, D.C, “to bring back memories to all of the servicemen that were before us and continue going after us,” he said.

He signed up to go on the Freedom Honor Flight four years ago, and now it’s finally his turn to go on the trip with other vets to honor all who have served.

“A lot of them are still over there, and they fought for this country, which is the greatest country there is,” Lundell said.

Lundell will be going on the trip with his son, and he’s planning to make this journey one to remember.

“I can’t wait.”