Retired Vietnam veteran sees his dream realized

I love stories like this one! Via the Newport News Daily Press:

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE – Retired Air Force Col. Donald Smith slowly inched his way into the cockpit of an F-22A Raptor sitting in the 94th Fighter Squadron hangar at Langley Air Force Base Thursday.

He did it quietly, solemnly.

After a few moments of taking it all in, Smith finally cracked a smile, looking out to the dozen or so airmen and family members circled around the jet.

“I’m not telling you how to start it,” said Lt. Col. Mike Hoepfner, a Raptor pilot and operations officer for the squadron, as he returned Smith’s smile.

While Smith would have jumped at the chance to feel the vibration of the jet fighter, just seeing the jet was already more than he could ask for.

Thursday’s visit to the Hampton base was a Second Wind Dream made possible by a Georgia-based, nonprofit organization that aims to fulfill the dreams of elderly men and women living in retirement communities.

Smith, a 78-year-old resident of the Warwick Forest retirement community in Newport News, had wanted to meet a Raptor pilot and see the Air Force’s newest and most stealthy plane up close. Langley was the perfect place to make the dream come true not only because it’s close to his home, but also because it was home to the first operational squadron of Raptors.

Make sure to read the rest of it to find out Smith’s distinguished military history.

My two best friends have fathers who are both WWII vets. While I haven’t met one of them, my friend has told me the story of how he was too young to serve, but managed to get enlisted anyway because he wanted to serve. I have met the other one’s dad – at a Marine reunion in SC a few years ago, and the stories he tells! He was supposedly too underweight to serve, by just a few pounds, but ate like crazy so he could go back and re-attempt to enlist … and was accepted. I just don’t feel worthy enough to even be in the same room with honorable people like them sometimes, you know?

Veterans like retired Air Force Col. Donald Smith, and my friends’ dads are a big part of what makes this country and our military so great, not idiots like Scott Thomas Beauchamp and others like him who the left grabs onto in an effort to somehow ‘prove’ that our military is supposedly so rotten to the core.

Thanks to ST reader Lorica for sending along the story.

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