Enumclaw icon Dorothy Sleigh just returned from a trip of a lifetime — an Honor Flight to D.C., where she visited numerous memorials and personally gave honor to fallen service men and women.
“It was just phenomenal. Just phenomenal,” she said after the three-day jaunt. “You can’t imagine what it was like.”
Sleigh was in the Air Force and worked as a secretary during the Korean War, though that sells her time in the service a little short — at one point in her career, she did translation work for an American general, a British wing commender, a French army colonel, and an Italian navy commander when she lived on a Paris base.
That service made her eligible for Honor Flight, a national nonprofit network formed in 2005 that aims to honor older and terminally-ill veterans by flying them to D.C., free of charge, and coordinating visits to ten memorials.
“It was an intense three days,” said Living Court Community Relations Director Dana Wilcox, who submitted Sleigh’s application to Honor Flight and traveled with her. “I don’t know how they think these people, including myself, can keep up. But we did it.”
The morning after arriving on Sept. 10, Sleigh and her companions — which also included Enumclaw’s Al Zarb and Buckley’s Jerry Loomis — visited the WWII Memorial, the Lincoln, Korean, and Vietnam Memorials, the FDR Memorial (Sleigh’s favorite: “I can remember him talking on the radio.”), and the Navy Memorial before retiring back at The Hilton.
The following day was comprised of visiting the Military Women’s Memorial, the Arlington National Cemetery, the Marine Corps Memorial, and the Air Force Memorial before boarding a plane to come back home.
It was at Arlington that Sleigh was one of a very few chosen to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unnamed Soldier.
“It was almost overwhelming,” Sleigh said, softly. “It really was.”
Since its founding, Honor Flight says it has sponsored flights to D.C. for more than 245,000 veterans, and currently serves about 22,000 vets a year, focusing on WWII, Vietnam, and Korean War-era vets at this time.
The Puget Sound hub was formed in 2013 and has flown more than 1,400 vets across the country; Sleigh flew on its 29th flight.
Most local vets who want to apply for Honor Flight will want to contact the Puget Sound hub at (253) 303-1130 or Info@PugetSoundHonorFlight.org. Applications for flights and volunteers can also be found at pugetsoundhonorflight.org.