Veteran sees need for Honor Flight verification

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In regard to the “On your honor flight” (May 20), a follow up article written by Devin Weeks, I would like to commend Devin for following up and looking into the Mike Dunham issue based on a phone call to the paper questioning his service and bringing to light the fact that the “Honor Flight” association does not verify the qualifications of individuals who apply for the opportunity to be rewarded for their efforts and sacrifice — neither of which apply to Mike Dunham.

The article was very informative, exposing opportunities for people to use “Stolen Valor” or in this case someone who didn’t complete a full enlistment and never left the United States. Hopefully the “Honor Flight” people will address and change the qualification process to allow only people who truly earned the right to participate in this wonderful program to be honored and recognized for their service.

Over the years I have watched the Honor Flight receptions on TV and read articles in the newspaper. I have often considered donating to such a great cause and even going to the Spokane Airport to greet these great people. People who take the time to go to the airport to greet the returning vets think they are shaking the hand of a person who has truly risked their life and/or supported someone who did. It’s sad to think that this may not always be the case.

I am saddened and disappointed to learn that the HF people do not screen their applicants and choose qualified and deserving people by priority (Combat being No. 1). Recently I went to Home Depot to purchase a new power tool. In order to receive my 10 percent military discount, I had to present a copy of my DD214. (I am a Vietnam era veteran and served my full enlistment, four years. I have read many books on our history and have a very good understanding of what trauma and sacrifices these men went through. (Read “The Coldest War” by David Halberstam.) Most of my teachers in grammar school were World War II and Korean War veterans and shared some of their experiences with us. It had an impact on me and many of my fellow students.

In my humble opinion, honor flights should be reserved for the people who truly deserve the privilege and experience of an “Honor Flight.” The fact of the matter is Mr. Dunham used donated dollars and took up space on an airplane that should have been reserved for someone who earned and deserved the opportunity.

• • •

Tyrone Carmichael is a Coeur d’Alene resident.

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