Steinhafels Employee Takes the “Honor” Flight of His Life

The nation will take time out to honor the brave men and women who served our country this Veterans Day, Saturday, November 11. It’s a proud day for our country, but also a day that brings back difficult memories for many of our nation’s finest.

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Organizations like the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight are working to help ease the pain of those memories. The Honor Flight happens several times a year, and takes veterans (World War II, Korea, and Vietnam) to see their monuments in Washington D.C.

The day ends with a huge welcome home event at Mitchell International Airport. Steinhafels has partnered with the Honor Flight for years, through various donation drives, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s “Mail Call” program.

But this Steinhafels blog looks at the Honor Flight from an even more personal angle–through the eyes of a veteran who works for our company. Theron Kramer has been part of the Steinhafels work family for 5 years, and has a skilled role in our Corporate Warehouse.

Before his time with Steinhafels though, Theron served our country as an Army Sergeant–deploying to both Kuwait and Iraq during his time in the service. Theron is one of many veterans we are proud to call part of the Steinhafels family.

Theron had the chance to be a Guardian on this past weekend’s Honor Flight. He was kind enough to share little bit about the experience with us.

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Steinhafels: Thank you for your service! When did you serve?

Theron: I served with Bravo Company 2/128th Air Assault Infantry in the Wisconsin Army National Guard in August 2003. I was honorably discharged as a sergeant in Aug 2011 with Alfa Troop 1/105th Calvary.

How about the gentleman you escorted on the flight?

Theron: Mr. John Tilch served with 1st Infantry as a combat medic in Phuoc Pinh, Vietnam in 1967. Mr. Tilch was given a spot on the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight and needed a guardian for the trip. I was very honored that he had asked me to go with him.

Why did you decide to join the service?

I joined the army because of the September 11th attacks. I felt like I needed to do something to help.

What is it like to be on a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight?

The flight to Washington was filled with excitement and anticipation. The flight back, however, was filled with many emotions. Every veteran on the flight received “mail call” letters from back home.

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I had never been to Washington D.C. before, and didn’t know what to expect while touring the memorials. Each memorial left you with a different emotion. The World War II memorial felt a bit cheerful and triumphant while the Vietnam wall was very mournful. The Korean War memorial was more dark and eerie.

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What was the most emotional part of the journey?

In my opinion the welcome home at General Mitchell International Airport was the most emotional part of the trip. To see the large volumes of strangers, service members and family was so inspiring. Especially for Mr. Tilch, a Vietnam veteran, who didn’t get that ‘welcome home.’ This trip was for him, and I am filled with pride that he finally received the welcome home he deserves.

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Why is the Honor Flight so important?

I think events like the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight are so important because it’s necessary to remind veterans that their selfless acts were appreciated, and that their call to duty did not go unnoticed.

I want to express my extreme gratitude to the staff at St. Paul School and Parish for their generous contributions. I also wanted to acknowledge the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight for the outstanding job that they do. Thank you!

And thank you Theron, for being a wonderful employee, and an example to other young men and women who want to take that extra step to protect the freedoms we are so lucky to enjoy here in the United States.

Help Steinhafels continue its support for veterans during our Veterans Day Sale, which runs through the end of business on Friday, November 10. Steinhafels will donate 5% of all sales to Fisher House Wisconsin. The Fisher House Foundation provides a network of comfort homes, where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment at the local VA.  

Also, Steinhafels is a proud Presenter of the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight “Mail Call” again this year. You can send a letter to a veteran on a 2018 flight! The Journal Sentinel will make a $10 donation for each letter received.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

attn: Mail Call

333 W. State St.

Milwaukee, WI 53203

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Journal Sentinel and Steinhafels Project a Great Success For Our Vets

Steinhafels, along with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has been a proud partner of the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight for years. It’s so exciting to see this organization flourish through the years, and expand to include Korean War vets… and soon, Vietnam vets.

We wanted to share an update on what’s been going on with the Honor Flight. Have you ever wished you could personally tell a veteran “Thank You?”

That’s why the Journal Sentinel recently featured the Mail Call project, presented by Steinhafels!

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People across Wisconsin wrote letters to veterans, and sent them to the Journal Sentinel. The letters will be presented to vets on future Honor Flights. In addition, for each letter received, the Journal made a $10 donation to the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Mail Call ran from November to April, and yielded 4,835 letters to veterans–raising $35,000 for the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Steinhafels was honored to host the check presentation this week.

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Here are some pictures from the first batch of Mail Call letters, which were distributed on the most recent flight, Saturday, April 8.

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The letters received through Mail Call were presented in addition to letters that Honor Flight volunteers secretly collected from family and friends of the veterans several weeks before the flight.

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On the flight home from Washington DC, each veteran’s name is called out on the loudspeaker, and the packages are handed out. Many veterans get very teary as they read the letters.

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Korean War veterans also received a letter from a Korean citizen who lives in Seoul, South Korea… thanking the vets for saving their country. How cool is that!?!

The funds raised through Mail Call will go toward future Honor Flights. It’s important to add that the Honor Flight is an all-volunteer organization that dedicates $.98 of every dollar donated directly to its mission.

The next Stars and Stripes Honor Flight is Sunday, May 21.  There will be following flights on Friday June 9, Saturday September 16, Saturday October 14, and Saturday November 4.

If you are interested, they we are now accepting applications from Vietnam veterans, and they expect to fly large numbers of them this fall. Priority will still go to terminally ill veterans (from any conflict), then WWII and Korean War veterans because they’re the oldest.  After that, they will fly as many Vietnam veterans as possible!

You can apply HERE.

Also, check out this 5 Words on Freedom movie premiere footage, if you haven’t yet! Steinhafels was proud to host this event a couple years ago. We look forward to continuing this partnership with our heroes for many years to come.

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