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Honor. Thank. Inspire. An Honor Flight Chicago Podcast

History Podcasts

Join us as long-time ABC 7 reporter Paul Meincke sits down with our senior war heroes from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to explore their stories and memories of serving their nation.

Join us as long-time ABC 7 reporter Paul Meincke sits down with our senior war heroes from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to explore their stories and memories of serving their nation.


United States


Join us as long-time ABC 7 reporter Paul Meincke sits down with our senior war heroes from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to explore their stories and memories of serving their nation.






Episode 32: Korean War Purple Heart Veteran Rich Bernier

Army Corporal Rich Bernier served "many months" on the front lines of the Korean War. One day, the bunker he had just left took a direct hit from a mortar, killing all inside. Rich received serious shrapnel wounds, recovered and came home. It was not until he and his son, Rick, traveled together on an Honor Flight Chicago mission to Washington, D.C., in 2016 that his family heard his battlefield tales.


Episode 31: Honor Flight Chicago Celebrates Its 100th Flight

In the predawn hours of April 13, 2022, 116 senior war veterans arrived at Midway International Airport to experience a day of Honor, Thanks, and Inspiration meant as a grand gesture of gratitude from a grateful nation. The life-changing trip would not only celebrate these heroes, but the more than 9,100 who came before and the thousands still waiting for their Day of Honor. This is the story of HFC100: Honor Flight Chicago's 100th mission to Washington, D.C.


Episode 30: Purple Heart Vietnam Veteran Luis Rodriguez

The 30th episode of our moving and meaningful Honor. Thank. Inspire. podcast spotlights Luis Rodriguez, a Purple Heart veteran of the Vietnam War. His deeply personal descriptions of the conditions of battle bring all of the rawness of the jungle home, and make the story of his actual homecoming all the more heart wrenching. This is a story that is as explicitly real as it is explicitly told. Don't miss this powerful episode.


Episode 29: Silver Star Vietnam Veteran Clyde Wilson

Clyde Wilson's first assignment after completing officer school was a command at Fort Leonard Wood with "McNamara’s Hundred Thousand." He -- like nearly all of them -- soon found himself heading to Vietnam where his eye-opening arrival foreshadowed an encounter in the field that would lead to the young first lieutenant being awarded the Silver Star.


Episode 28: Two-Tour Vietnam Veteran Charles Nichols

Charles Nichols believes in his country's mission in Vietnam to this day. Fulfilling a life-long desire to be a United States Marine, Nichols signed up and served. When his tour of duty was complete, he returned home to Chicago and immediately found himself in another fight against rabid war protestors. Deciding it was safer for him to return to battle, Nichols volunteered for a second tour. In this Season 3 debut of Honor. Thank. Inspire., Nichols vividly describes the challenges common to...


Episode XXVII: WWII Navy Veteran David Grauer

Dr. David Grauer, DDS, joined the Navy late in WWII thanks to the urging of his father. After not seeing combat, he felt his military experience was not worthy of inclusion on an Honor Flight Chicago mission. For a man whose service to his country and his community extends from his time in uniform all the way into his 10th decade of life, he could not have been more mistaken.


Episode XXVI: Purple Heart Vietnam Veteran Jon Lapo

Jon Lapo had a rough-and-tumble upbringing in the Madison and Central neighborhood on Chicago's West Side. Looking for direction, he enlisted in the Army and soon found himself in Vietnam as a demolition man and -- for a time -- as a tunnel rat. His experiences in-country produced trauma that he lives with to this day, but he has found a purpose in life in the present that sustains him.


Episode XXV: Omaha Beach D-Day Veteran Ray Wagner

In the absolute chaos that was Omaha Beach on D-Day, 20-year-old Ray Wagner found himself twice thrown into the water before scrambling onto the sand, death and destruction all around. He himself was wounded on that beach, but less than a month later he was back with his field artillery unit as they worked their way through Belgium, Holland, France and Germany -- where his unit came upon the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. Irascible and with language as salty as the water he was thrown...


Episode XXIV: Ride Along as Operation HerStory Takes Flight on HFC98!

On October 6, 2021, our long-awaited Operation HerStory All-Female Veteran Flight took off bound for Washington, D.C., with 93 senior heroes aboard. Come along for the ride as Paul Meincke shares the sounds and experiences of the day through the eyes of several of the women veterans who took part in this historic mission!


Episode XXIII: WWII B-24 Bomber Pilot Alvin Goodman

WWII Army Air Corps First Lieutenant Alvin Goodman, Jr., flew 11 successful missions as a B-24 Bomber pilot before, while serving as co-pilot on his 12th, he was hit by flak and knocked out cold in the cockpit. In this episode of Honor. Thank. Inspire., Goodman describes the relatively little training pilots received before being thrown into combat, and his road to recovery after being wounded in midair. Goodman remained a flyer throughout his life, logging 25,000 hours of flight time during...


Episode XXII: Vietnam Army Nurse Constance Edwards

Retired Army Colonel Constance Love Edwards was a nurse in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, where she treated casualties coming in from the field while facing challenges related not only to gender, but race as well. In the decades afterwards, she has worked to bring recognition to the women who served in the military. On the occasion of our partnership with Operation HerStory and our All-Female Veteran Flight on October 6, 2021, we are proud to bring you Connie's story in this special...


Episode XXI: Korean War Infantry Veteran and Hall Of Famer Kenny Hirata

Kenny Hirata spent many of his teenage years in an Japanese-American internment camp in Arizona during WWII. After resettling in the Midwest, Hirata served his country in the infantry during the Korean War. This powerful episode explores the effect of the internment camps on Hirata and his family, and how he built a life and career that culminated in his enshrinement in the Hot Rod Hall of Fame.


Episode XX: Inside HFC96, The Nation's First Honor Flight To Return To D.C.

On August 18, 2021, Honor Flight Chicago returned to Washington, D.C., with a plane full of 112 senior war veterans. It was the first honor flight nationwide since the start of the pandemic and the first for HFC in 22 months. Go inside the flight with Paul Meincke to experience the day with our heroes!


Episode XIX: Honor Flight Chicago's Return To The Skies

After a 22-month pause in flying, Honor Flight Chicago is excited to return to the skies with its 96th flight in August of 2021. The resumption of flights to Washington, D.C., brings with it new protocols and a more urgent approach to our mission. Paul Meincke sits down with HFC Co-Directors Edna Ho and Doug Meffley to discuss those changes and more in this episode of Honor. Thank. Inspire.


Episode XVIII: Vietnam War Marine Corps Sergeant Louis Covelli

Marine Corp Sergeant Lou Covelli was among the earliest combat troops sent to Vietnam, finding himself part of 1965's Operation Starlite -- the first purely U.S. offensive of the war. Covelli volunteered for any assignment that came his way during his tour, never believing that he would make it home alive. When he did, however, the reception he received from his fellow countrymen shook him to his core. His path forward, and Honor Flight Chicago's role in his current outlook on his service,...


Episode XVII: A Daughter's Remembrance of WWII Purple Heart Veteran Harold Weir

Staff Sergeant Harold Weir was struck eight times by enemy fire in 1944, but survived his wounds, subsequent capture, and five months as a POW in the infamous Stalag 17. Harold returned home after WWII and for decades stoically endured mental and physical pain that often left him unable to sleep through the night. In 2011 -- accompanied by his daughter, Donna -- SSgt Weir traveled with Honor Flight Chicago to Washington, D.C., for an experience that proved to be life changing for all...


Honor. Thank. Inspire. Episode XVI: A Daughter's Remembrance of D-Day Veteran Bob Wilcox

Bob Wilcox landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944: D-Day. He survived the landing only to be cut down on "Bloody Hill" near La Haye-du-Puits one month later. After nearly a year in the hospital, Bob came home to focus on family and his career as a notable optician prior to his passing in 2020. In this unique episode, Bob's daughter Jeanny Shotas' remembrances of her father are interwoven with Bob's own words from an earlier interview. As one of Bob's famous clients once said: Holy Cow!


Honor. Thank. Inspire. Episode XV: WWII Bronze Star Medic Peter Broustis

As an Army field medic throughout the Battle of the Bulge, Staff Sergeant Peter Broustis saw firsthand the brutal realities of war. For his courage under fire, he received a Bronze Star. And yet, it was the atrocities he witnessed as part of the liberation force at Dachau that truly shocked him. As Peter says, "I saw man's inhumanity to man."


Honor. Thank. Inspire. Episode XIV: Korean War Marine Bob Healy

During high school, Bob Healy enlisted in the Marine Corps reserves. Soon after, Corporal Healy found himself on the other side of the world in the thick of the frozen Chosin Reservoir campaign -- one of the most brutal battles in the history of modern warfare. Hear his story of survival as one of the Korean War's "Chosin Few."


Honor. Thank. Inspire. Episode XIII: WWII Pilot George Behling, Jr.

Through 41 missions over Germany during WWII, George Behling, Jr., escorted bombers in his P-51 Mustang and safely returned home. During the 42nd, however, his engine failed -- forcing the 20-year-old to land in enemy territory and to take what he calls "the hard way home."