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Dobson encourages other veterans to take Honor Flight

| September 15, 2017

Bob Dobson is pictured in front of the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. He was able to visit the memorial on Sept. 9 when he participated in an Honor Flight. Contributed | Beacon

COSHOCTON – Bob Dobson almost didn’t sign up to take an Honor Flight, but he is glad he changed his mind.

Honor Flight Columbus flies World War II and Korean War veterans for free to Washington, D.C. for the day to visit memorials dedicated to their service and others as time allows. They put terminally ill veterans from any era at the head of the line and are now accepting Vietnam War veterans for regular flights.

“Two years ago a good friend of mine went and tried to talk me into it, but I kind of backed out,” Dobson said. “My thoughts were to let the veterans who saw combat go. I never saw a day of combat. I went in the U.S. Army in 1951 and did end up overseas, but it was in Paris, France.”

However, this spring he started thinking about the Honor Flight again and decided to visit Jim Barstow at the veterans service office who was glad to help him get signed up for the trip.

Dobson took his Honor Flight on Sept. 9. He was one of 81 veterans onboard the plane that left John Glenn Columbus International Airport bright and early in the morning.

That flight included a guardian for every veteran who was there the whole day to help them with any needs that arrived during the trip. Dobson also picked up a second guardian once the plane arrived in Baltimore.

“As soon as we got there they moved us right along on to three buses for D.C.,” he said. “We had a police escort to D.C. and back to Baltimore. We didn’t stop for stop signs or traffic lights.”

Dobson was impressed with the guardians who helped him during the trip.

“The guardian from Baltimore really knows everything about the monuments and she got me up there right in front at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier so I could see well,” he said. “They change guards there every 30 minutes, but we were there even 30 minutes before that and it was pretty sunny out. I had to get in the shade. I immediately got taken over to a wall that was in the shade.”

Dobson said each bus load of veterans had two medical professionals assigned to them and one came over to him right away.

“One grabbed my wrist, took my pulse and told the guardian that I was dehydrated,” he said. “My guardian ripped a water bottle right out of her pack and told me she’d already drank out of it, but I needed to drink and then some other guy came right up and brought me a fresh bottle. The guardians were with you every step of the way. If you went to the restroom they were waiting for you when you came out.”

Dobson’s favorite stop on the trip was Arlington National Cemetery.

“I’ve seen it on TV, but had no idea how big it really is,” he said. “It’s enormous and you see all those stones, just lined up perfectly.”

Dobson added that they all had on Honor Flight t-shirts and everywhere they went people were thanking them for their service.

The return to Columbus also was memorable for him.

“My friend told me a little about it, but I had no idea there would be hundreds of people standing there when we got off the plane,” Dobson said. “I was second or third off the plane and didn’t go very far before I spotted my daughter Shelley (Brown) with her video camera and the rest of the family.”

Brown said her father didn’t know she had gathered as much family as possible to welcome him home at the airport in Columbus.

“I cried when I saw them all,” Dobson said.

Brown added that she thinks they all actually cried. She also added that family made signs for him and she had people sign cards for him to receive when the Honor Flight volunteers did a mail call on the way back to Baltimore.

“They almost immediately started the mail call on the bus,” Dobson said. “I got this big manila envelope with my name on it and before I got to look through much of it they called my name and I had another one and then I got this big package rubber banded together. I had a total of over 100 pieces of mail.”

Once he returned to Columbus he received a patriotic lap quilt, cookies, a flag that was made by Annin and all kinds of other goodies according to Brown.

“I was told I would really enjoy the trip and I did,” Dobson said. “It’s nice to talk to someone who’s gone before so you know what’s going on, but if you don’t know anyone, the folks in the veterans service office have been guardians and are very helpful.”

For more on the Honor Flight, visit www.honorflightcolumbus.org/home.html.

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Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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