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Regional Roundup: WWII veteran visits D.C. via Honor Flight

LIMA — Jerry Picker, of Lima, served in the Navy during World War II on the USS Essex, an aircraft carrier. His daughter, Jennifer Picker, also of Lima, accompanied him on the Flag City Honor Flight, which took place Tuesday.

Jennifer Picker had heard about the Honor Flight program through a friend at work.

“Her family was going on one and they helped me to get in contact,” Jennifer Picker said. “They [Flag City Honor Flight] called me and said they had an opening to get Dad on board.

“At first I thought he was a little apprehensive about going, but the more we spoke about it, the more excited he got to go,” she added.

She was certain his apprehension was due to bringing back memories of the war and of so many things that happened.

The one-day trip began very early for Jennifer Picker and her dad. At 5 a.m. they were in Toledo at the airport in a hangar having a breakfast. U.S. Rep. Bob Latta spoke to the veterans and their guardians. At 7 a.m., they began boarding the plane for Washington, D.C.

“We saw not only WWII, Korea and Vietnam memorials, but also got to see the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, where we saw the changing of the guards,” Jennifer Picker said. “It was awe-inspiring, and brings out your patriotism.”

While they were there visitors would approach the veterans.

“People visiting there would come up and thank the veterans for their service,” Jennifer Picker said.

“It was fantastic. To be there with these veterans that day and hear their stories and what they have been through was heartwarming,” she said. “Our veterans are the foundation of this great nation.”

Jennifer Picker recommends this trip to all veterans and their families.

“I can’t say enough about how much they did to make us feel welcomed,” she said.

She enjoyed the trip so much, she has volunteered her services to be a guardian for other veterans who might not have one.

Flag City Honor Flight operates one trip each June for veterans. These veterans travel free of charge to Washington with a guardian. The trip is made possible by donations from individuals, organizations and local businesses.

For information on Flag City Honor Flights, visit the website at: http://FlagCityHonorFlight.org or call 419-722-8286 to reach the public relations coordinator.

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