Honor Flight Lake County sends six veterans to Washington

Six veterans, their guardians, friends and well-wishers gathered Friday morning at Veterans Memorial Park in North Chicago for a send off to Washington D.C.

The hourlong event preceded a bus ride to General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee and the beginning of a three-day visit made possible by the fledgling Lake County Honor Flight group.

Organized under the auspices of the Exchange Club of North Chicago, the group this past July became an official Honor Flight Hub that will arrange for veterans to travel to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to their honor and service.

“We don’t have a whole lot of money,” said Paula Carballido, Exchange Club president. “It’s basically word-of-mouth, Facebook, our website and a lot of press releases.”

Honor Flight Lake County is an official chapter of the nonprofit National Honor Flight organization and one of eight hubs in Illinois. Trips are available to veterans from throughout the Chicago area who served during any conflict, Carballido said.

On the inaugural flight this weekend are: Steve M. Aoyagi of Des Plaines and William P. Smith Sr., of Waukegan, (Vietnam); Edgar C. Douglas of Chicago and Bernard M. Hermsen of Glenview (World War II); and, Theodore Hudson Jr., of Waukegan and Harry Fontana, of Mundelein (Korean War).

While in Washington, the group will celebrate the legacy of Navy veteran Frank L. Wortham Sr., an honorary member of the Exchange Club who died Sept. 4 at age 87. He had retired from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.

  Six veterans are honored Friday during the Lake County Honor Flight send off celebration. They are from Edgar Douglas, left, Theodore Hudson Jr., Harry Fontana, William Smith Sr., Bernard Hermsen and Steve Aoyagi. Bob Chwedyk/
  Air Force veteran Steve Aoyagi of Des Plaines, who served in Vietnam, holds up a pocket watch that each of six veterans were given Friday during the Lake County Honor Flight send off celebration. Bob Chwedyk/
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