A bond of friendship between local veterans, formed through their shared experiences in community service, led to both men having a chance to participate in the Honor Flight program.
Vietnam veteran Chuck Miller formed a friendship with World War II veteran Dick Weiser after the two connected through their volunteer work with the Community Food Pantry and Canal Winchester Human Services. Both are residents of Canal Winchester.
Miller's interest in and respect for WWII veterans, and for Weiser in particular, led him to submit an application to the Honor Flight program on Weiser's behalf. The program provides veterans with a free flight to an appropriate memorial, along with an accompanying assistant.
"I've always had an interest in World War II veterans, because as a Vietnam vet, we knew we had a tour of duty to do, and then if we survived that, we'd be on our way home," Miller said. "But veterans of World War II would get sent from one theater of war to another. There was much more uncertainty.
"So when I got to know Dick through his work with Human Services, well, we talked about the Honor Flight program and I helped him submit an application."
Both said they are very excited about the Honor Flight, and thankful to the organization for providing this opportunity.
Weiser, who will be 90 years old later this year, will fly to Washington, D.C., April 5 to visit the WWII monument, with Miller accompanying him as support.
"I got out of high school in 1942 and everyone in my class was volunteering for service, but I wasn't able to join with them due to a minor medical issue," Weiser said.
"Well, I ended up convincing my parents to pay for a minor surgery for me to correct the issue, so I could join. That meant I wasn't able to join until 1944."
According to Weiser, he joined the Army Air Corps and took the route of becoming a pilot, but the war was won before he completed his flight training.
"My service career was minor compared to most of the veterans I'll be on this flight with," he said. "My parents were always very community-focused and I learned from them the importance of service.
"I ended up serving in the Corps for about 18 months before being honorably discharged."
Weiser's father, A.B. Weiser, was superintendent of the Canal Winchester school district for 35 years and his mother, Hazel, was a teacher.
Dick Weiser, and his wife of 65 years, Jo, have been lifelong community volunteers and philanthropists.
"Later on in my life, before my mother passed away, she told me to never forget my church lessons," Weiser said. "And so Jo and I will continue to give back to the community however we can, as long as the good Lord lets us."