WWII veterans surprised with a "virtual" Honor Flight

SHAWANO, Wis. (WBAY) - Just ahead of our nation's Independence Day, five World War II veterans were surprised with an honorary Honor Flight at a Shawano nursing home.

Veterans watch an Honor Flight presentation (WBAY photo)

With the help of the local high school band, patriotism filled the air at Atrium of Evergreen Monday afternoon.

"Shawano is an awesome community for patriotism and we support our veterans, so I thought what a better way, the week of the 4th, the holidays," activities director Debbie Buss said.

Five veterans whose health won't allow them to go on an actual Honor Flight received the ultimate Honor Flight experience.

"A lot of them could not participate and I think it's a healing process for them to participate and know that they're loved and that they are not forgotten," Col. Carolyn Jolitz, Army Nurse Corps (retired), said.

A video presentation allowed the veterans to board a virtual plane and travel to Washington, DC, to see their war memorials.

Family members are touched by the tribute their loved ones received.

"I think it's wonderful for them to be honored. They're older now, and how many World War Two veterans are left? There isn't very many, so I'm very happy they did this. It was wonderful," Jean Gruetzmacher, the wife of a veteran, expressed.

As part of the ceremony, each veteran received an Honor Flight shirt, hat and coin, making for a day they didn't expect and won't soon forget.

"It shows the appreciation that they're aware of what we did for our country," World War II veteran Edward Krisik said.