MAJESTIC SURPRISE

Veteran has unexpected guardian for U.P. Honor Flight trip

Upper Peninsula Honor Flight

n Honor Flight MISSION XII included World War II veterans, Korean War veterans and Vietnam War veterans.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was written originally for the Escanaba Daily Press.

By RENEE PRUSI

Journal Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Upper Peninsula Honor Flight helped pull off a huge surprise for Korean War veteran Victor Majestic, of Rapid River, during its Mission XII trip to Washington, D.C., May 17.

Majestic was led to believe that for the trip his guardian — each veteran on Honor Flight is assigned one — would be Paula Waeghe, who has been involved with the program since its inception in September 2011.

Instead, when Majestic stepped off the plane at Reagan National Airport that morning, the first face he saw was his son, Mark, who lives in Maryland.

After a tearful hug, the two were quickly focused on the day ahead in which they, along with another 67 veterans and guardians, would be touring the nation’s capital to visit the memorials in their honor.

This trip included World War II veterans, Korean War veterans and Vietnam War veterans.

“My dad was in the Korean War,” Mark Majestic said. “He was born and raised in the U.P., then after the war, went to work for Ford in Ohio. When he retired, he moved back to the area and lives right by where he grew up in Ensign (Township).”

Mark, too, is a veteran, having served 20 years in the U.S. Army.

The U.P. crew’s first stop was at the World War II Memorial, one of the newer areas of tribute in Washington, D.C.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Victor Majestic said about the surprise as the pair grabbed a minute in the shade on a 90-plus degree day. “Wow. I found out Paula knew all about it, but she kept it secret from me.”

His son said, “We kept a good surprise. At first I didn’t think I could participate as a guardian and was just going to stop to visit dad as a surprise. But this all worked out wonderfully.”

Mark Majestic took the day off from his job as director of investigations and audits at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid.

The two enjoyed their day together, crossing paths with many groups of school kids, who were in awe of the Honor Flight veterans.

“What’s fun is watching the kids approach the veterans and say ‘thank you.’ That’s amazing,” Mark Majestic said.

Started by Barb Van Rooy and a group of her friends in 2011, U.P. Honor Flight has taken more than 900 veterans to Washington in its 12 trips. Initially started to bring World War II veterans to the nation’s capital, Knauf and his board are continuing the tradition, with WWII veterans getting preference, and Korean and Vietnam veterans invited to apply to take the trip.

The trip is free to veterans, who receive the tour of monuments, meals, a hat, shirt, jacket and a host of memories from the journey. Contrary to popular belief, Honor Flight does not receive any money from the government, but is instead made possible by local fundraising events.

Applications are being accepted for Mission XIII, which is set for Sept. 27. Visit uphonorflight.org or call Knauf at 906-280-2871 for more information.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 240. Her email address is rprusi@miningjournal.net.