WASHINGTON, D.C. — Upper Peninsula Honor Flight helped pull of a huge surprise for Korean War veteran Victor Majestic, of Rapid River, during its Mission XII trip to Washington, D.C., Wednesday.
Majestic was led to believe for the trip his guardian — each veteran on Honor Flight is assigned one — would be Paula Waeghe, who has been involved with the program since its inception in September 2011.
Instead, when Majestic stepped off the plane at Reagan National Airport Wednesday morning, the first face he saw was his son, Mark, who lives in Maryland.
After a tearful hug, the two were quickly focused on the day ahead in which they along with another 67 veterans and guardians would be touring the nation’s capital to visit the memorials in their honor.
This trip included World War II veterans, Korean War veterans and Vietnam War veterans.
“My dad was in the Korean War,” Mark Majestic said. “He was born and raised in the U.P. then after the war, went to work for Ford in Ohio. When he retired, he moved back to the area and lives right by where he grew up in Ensign (Township).”
Mark, too, is a veteran, having served 20 years in the U.S. Army.
The U.P. crew’s first stop was at the World War II Memorial, one of the newer areas of tribute in Washington, D.C.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Victor Majestic said about the surprise as the pair grabbed a minute in the shade on a 90-plus degree day. “Wow. I found out Paula knew all about it, but she kept it secret from me.”
His son said, “We kept a good surprise. At first I didn’t think I could participate as a guardian and was just going to stop to visit dad as a surprise. But this all worked out wonderfully.”
Mark Majestic took the day off from his job as director of investigations and audits at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid.
The two enjoyed their day together, crossing paths with many groups of school kids, who were in awe of the Honor Flight veterans.
“What’s fun is watching the kids approach the veterans and say ‘thank you. That’s amazing,” Mark Majestic said.
In all, the day was a success, said Scott Knauf, U.P. Honor Flight president.
“Despite the blazing heat, the veterans had a great time,” Knauf said as the group boarded the plane for the return flight home. “I know they’re excited to get home, but we have a few more surprises for them.”
Those flight home surprises included a mail call in which family and friends wrote messages to the veterans. Each veteran received a mail call envelope as part of the journey back to the Delta County Airport, from which the missions fly.
Started by Barb Van Rooy and a group of her friends in 2011, U.P….