SPOKANE, Wash. – Bob Kelly, 59, thought he would never get a chance to see the Vietnam Wall or the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery. Doctors diagnosed Kelly with terminal cancer last year in his bladder, lungs and bloodstream. They told him he likely won’t live to his 60th birthday in March.
When the Inland Northwest Honor Flight learned of his condition, the organization arranged to get him on the very next flight. That flight was in late September, and Kelly said it was one of the best experiences of his life.
Even though most veterans on Honor Flight get to travel with other veterans from the same war, Kelly went with more than 80 World War Two veterans. He said he really enjoyed traveling with them and hearing their history.
“Wherever we went, you’re sitting here listening to all the stories going on behind you, around you,” Kelly said. “Wherever we were at…they were always talking about something they did.”
He encourages other Spokane-area Vietnam veterans to sign up for Honor Flight, and in the meantime, he hopes they take advantage of the traveling Vietnam wall at Spokane’s Greenwood Memorial Terrace Oct. 3-6.
“There’s a lot of Vietnam vets that aren’t gonna make it to that wall,” Kelly said.
For Kelly, Honor Flight brought him closure and peace.