Comfrey native coordinates Honor Flights at BWIBALTIMORE, Md. — He’s a native of Comfrey, an Air Force veteran and retired from the National Security Agency in Washington, D.C., after 38 years of service. Now, Glen Anderson spends his days coordinating all of the Honor Flights, TLC (Their Last Chance) and Lone Eagle flights that land at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
BALTIMORE, Md. — He’s a native of Comfrey, an Air Force veteran and retired from the National Security Agency in Washington, D.C., after 38 years of service. Now, Glen Anderson spends his days coordinating all of the Honor Flights, TLC (Their Last Chance) and Lone Eagle flights that land at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Anderson, now of Severn, Md., worked closely with Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota President Terrie Gulden to ensure that this third flight of World War II veterans embarking on a journey to view their memorial went as smoothly as possible. It’s a volunteer service he takes pride in, and one that offers many rewards.
Each week, Anderson is responsible for sending out a list to some 200 volunteers in the Honor Flight Network for BWI Airport. On that list is every Honor Flight, Lone Eagle and TLC flight scheduled to land at the airport that week, including the flight number, arrival time and departure. Of those 200 volunteers, about 40 are on hand for each of the flights, he said.
The volunteers are encouraged to cheer, clap, give hugs or even kiss the veterans as they exit the jet way and head toward an awaiting bus for their Washington, D.C., tour.
“When you watch them come off, you see a group of 85- to 95-year-old World War II veterans, and when they see these people cheering, you see them grow — they get taller,” he said. “These same people that I met in the morning, in the evening they’re acting like they’re 45 to 55 years old, and I see the 25-year-old guardians looking like they’re 55 years old — they’re dragging.
“The ones from Minnesota, they’re a little hardier,” Anderson said with a laugh.
He and his wife, Ramona, have welcomed World War II veterans into Washington, D.C., ever since the Honor Flight Network was established six years ago by founder Earl Morse, a retired Air Force Captain and a physician’s assistant from Ohio.
The inaugural Honor Flight was in May 2005, with six small planes flying a dozen World War II veterans from Springfield, Ohio, to the nation’s capital city.
“Last year we did something like 3,200 veterans and guardians,” Anderson said of BWI.
The Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota group landed at BWI at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 29, on a Miami Air 737 filled with 165 veterans, guardians, medical personnel and staff. They were one of six Honor Flights landing at BWI that week. Other flights hailed from Washington, Missouri, Arizona, Tennessee and Texas. Anderson said three other Minnesota flights arrived at Reagan National Airport on Saturday, with one each coming from the Rochester, St. Cloud and Twin Cities hubs.
The TLC program is open to any veteran from any war who is terminally ill and wants to view their memorial; while the Lone Eagle program is open to those veterans who live in more isolated areas of the country where there aren’t large groups of veterans that can be gathered for an Honor Flight. More information on both of those programs, which are offered in every state except Alaska and Hawaii, is available on the honorflight.org website.
In each of the programs, the veteran pays absolutely nothing for the experience. The airfare, meals, charter bus and hotel, if needed, are covered by Honor Flight. Anderson said they receive donations of about 100 cases of water per year from Pepsi, and the fireman’s union in Baltimore provides the network at BWI with “several hundred dollars” worth of water for all of the veterans to have during their journey in Washington. Ice is also donated by a local business.
With Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota, roughly $140,000 is needed to cover the cost of each flight. The trip is free to all of the veterans on the trip, while guardians pay $800 to cover their costs.