Honor and volley

JMU’s volleyball team recently had a chance to say ‘thanks’ to a very special group of men and women who helped change the world — literally. In fact, some would say they saved it. I asked Brian Hanson, the team’s coach to guest blog about the experience. Here’s what Brian had to report:

Honor Flight

by Brian Hanson

Last week, I had the honor to travel with the James Madison volleyball team as they took part in a community service project with a group called the Honor Flight Network. The purpose of Honor Flight is to fly United States veterans of foreign war, specifically World War II, to Washington, D.C., so they can visit the World War II memorial that was established in their honor.

So I traveled along with seven members of the team, Associate Head Coach Ron Sweet, who organized the trip, and Roger Soenksen, faculty athletics representative, for the event in Washington. We started our day 6:20 a.m. to make the drive up to Dulles airport to meet a flight filled with 79 veterans and their guardians who were arriving from the Midwest.

When the flight landed and pulled up to the terminal, there were fire trucks on each side that shot an arch of water over the plan. I was not aware of this, but this is an honor reserved for only two groups. The first is retiring airline pilots who are making their final flights and the other is veterans of foreign war.

Afterwards we gathered around the gate and greeted the veterans with applause, handshakes and hugs as they departed the plane. All the veterans were grateful for the kind welcome. It was truly fun to see their faces light up when they got to the volleyball team. Apparently, it’s not every day that a bunch of 20-something young ladies pay them so much attention. Many of the veterans stopped and asked to get a picture with the team, some cracking a few jokes while others shared a few kind words.

Next we ventured to the National Mall and met up with a group at the World War II Memorial. The team took the time to talk with many of the veterans, listening to their stories and expressing their gratitude. It was incredible to hear from these brave men and women. One guy we met served in three wars, starting in the armed forces during World War II while also seeing combat in the Korean War and in Vietnam. We finished up our day with a trip to see the Korean War Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial before returning to Harrisonburg in the afternoon.

It was such a great honor to be able to show our appreciation to the many men and women who have sacrificed so much to defend our country and its freedom. It truly was just as much of a blessing for each of us as it was for the veterans.

Team members who participated are Natalie Abel (’12), Megan Wiechmann (’13), Kelly Maguire (’14), Kristi Richardson (’14), Alyssa Hall (’15), Lizzy Briones (’15) and Martha Stewart (’15).

To see more pictures of the event, visit the volleyball team’s website at http://www.jmusports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=14400&ATCLID=205438829

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About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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