The expression "leave no man behind" has long been ingrained in the ethos of the U.S. military. However, that mantra recently took on new meaning for 14 students from Le Moyne's Department of Nursing, who volunteered their time to aid 62 veterans in traveling from Syracuse to Washington, D.C., and back again. For the veterans, it was a trip back in time, For the students, it was an opportunity to gain practical experience, but more importantly, to gain a greater appreciation for the World War II era and to give back to those who served the nation.
The group was part of the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit organization that was established in 2005 to bring veterans to the capital to visit the monuments created in honor of their service and sacrifice. This is the fourth Honor Flight in which Le Moyne’s nursing students have participated, either by going on the trip and assisting the veterans by serving as their guardians or as healthy and safety leaders or by planning the pre- and post-flight events.
"Every year these trips take on a greater sense of urgency as approximately 1,000 World War II veterans pass away every day, said Kara Keyes, a professor of practice and organizer of the event."These trips are long overdue and they provide a special thank you to all of the veterans who faced so many challenges during their young lives to protect the freedoms we all enjoy today."
The majority of the veterans on the most recent trip served during World War II, and ranged in age from 89 to 94 years old. They visited the National Mall, including the World War Ii, Korean War and Vietnam memorials and Lincoln Memorial. They also stopped at the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial and the Air Force Memorial, as well as Arlington National Cemetery.
For Danielle Downs ’12, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Le Moyne and is pursuing her master’s degree in nursing administration, the opportunity to participate in all four Syracuse-area honor flight missions has been “incredible.” She has heard stories of lost friends, sweethearts left behind, and finally coming home.
“I couldn't image the things they have survived and have seen in their journeys,” she said.