PHOTO GALLERY: Field of Honor Hits a Home Run

Miller Park is the site for a day of honor and remembrance for veterans from the greatest generation and then some, breaking a world record in the process.

The showing of a documentary based on the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight brought tears to the eye, cheers from the crowd and broke a record for attendance. "Field of Honor," a documentary based on the journey of veterans to visit their war memorials in Washington, D.C., had its premier showing at Miller Park to a nearly sold-out crowd estimated at 33,000.

Official totals confirmed by a representative of the Guiness Book of World records put the exact attendance at 28,442.

  • Related story: about Honor Flight, war

The Honor Flight Network began in 2004 when Earl Morse, a retired air force captain and physician's assistant at a VA clinic in Ohio realized most of his patients who were World War II vets had neither the funds nor the physical ability to make the trip to see their own memorial. The first flight was completed in December of 2004 with a small plane to get one veteran out to Washington, and as word spread of Morse's first flight, other pilots stepped forward to assist, and by 2005 the program had, well, taken off.

Locally, the Stars and Stripes program has had 14 flights using leased 747s leaving from General Mitchell International airport, carrying 2,130 veterans to Washington D.C., since its inaugural flight in November of 2008. It is one of six hubs in the state flying to Washington, and part of the nationwide effort that is expected to reach 100,000 veterans by the end of this year, but organizers are constantly under pressure to continue the flights.

"We lose a WWII veteran every 90 seconds, so it's extremely important to continue this mission," said Joe Dean, Chairman of Honor Flight.

Saturday's events were preceded by a suprise presentation for a man who had been wounded in Vietnam. David Hoile of Port Washington was awarded a Purple Heart 43 years after he was wounded. The veteran said he was "flabbergasted" to have the award presented at a press conference prior to the opening of the event.

As parking lots filled, guests were treated to World War II re-enactors, a replica 'Pillar of Honor' of the memorial as well as WWII-era music and bagpipers from the Greater Milwaukee Pipe & Drum Corps on the outside mall around the stadium. Inside the stadium, big band music played on a stage on the field and veterans were welcomed by Mayor Tom Barrett, and video messages were broadcast from Aaron Rodgers, Bart Starr and Bob Dole to name a few.

There was , both from veterans and those who came out in support.

Liz Carleton of Waukesha came out with her kids, Kirsten, 19 and Matt, 28. She said they have always supported the military and have been donors for the Honor Flight program, and wanted to take part in the day in person.

"I've taught my kids to take every opportunity to say thank you to our veterans, because it was how I was brought up," Liz said.

"It's just amazing to think of what these guys did for our freedom, and I think it's so important to show your support" Matt added.

Volunteer Mary Dibb from Muskego said she and husband Phil, a 33 year veteran of the Air Force, decided to volunteer in 2009 after she had heard it publicized on the radio.

"It's been such a rewarding opportunity, and overwhelming at times," she said.

After speeches by Mayor Tom Barrett, Governor Scott Walker, radio personality Charlie Sykes and other organizers, the movie began and played to a silent crowd, which only occasionally punctuated the show with applause. A fireworks show then capped off the evening.

Dan Hayes, a 29-year-old Wisconsin native and the director of the movie, said the experience has been an emotional one for him as well, but it was only a part of the story.

(If you missed the event, but want to catch the movie's release, text 'honor' to 70-000 on your cell phone.)

"It's really a story about freedom. I look out today and I see families enjoying themselves out here and that's an awesome and powerful thing and it's important to recognize that," he said. "We should never take those things for granted, these are things that are fundamentally good and were won for us by their sacrifice."

Joe Dean echoed the sentiment, adding, "there is no earthly way to thank our vets, but we're going to try anyway," he said. "These men literally saved the free world."

Greg August 12, 2012 at 03:27 AM
It was an awesome event. Congrats to all WWII veterans.
Be Realistic August 12, 2012 at 12:10 PM
What a awesome event. So emotional. Thanks to all our veterans for their service.
Jkeinert August 12, 2012 at 12:53 PM
My family was there in the WWII reeanctor picture. It was so wonderful posing for pictures with veteran's and seeing their smiles!
Denise Konkol (Editor) August 12, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Thanks is indeed not enough, especially after viewing this movie. I was touched when one of the veterans highlighted in the movie asked media during a press conference to give the event organizers a standing ovation. Such selflessness.
Greg Williams August 12, 2012 at 05:41 PM
It was an honor to honor our Veterans. A very touching moment was after the program several Vets in wheelchairs were waiting to go from the 4th level down on the service elevator when a young man and lady approached the group and thanked each Vet for their service. No parental direction-all on their own.
Denise Konkol (Editor) August 12, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Can we please keep this thread politics free? The event was solely about the veterans. Period. Thanks to the others whose posts I have not deleted. You're on the right track.
a quiet conservative August 12, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Any word on if the film will be available on disc?
Bryan Olson August 12, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Never realized it before WWII veterans did in fact save the world, for that the world should be as grateful. America loves WWII vets, as we should love all veterans. Pray for all of them. Pray for peace
Jkeinert August 13, 2012 at 12:29 AM
During the Ceremony there was an ad that said if you text 'HONOR' to 700-00 you would receive updates on the dvd release of 'Honor Flight'
SMaki August 13, 2012 at 01:16 AM
My brothers, sister and I took my father who at the time of his honor flight walked to a cheering Milwaukee airport crowd. Last night at 87 he needed a wheelchair for the event...it didn't matter. The unbelievable selfless sacrifices these veterans gave had us openly weeping many times. I will forever look at our veterans of past and present differently and say “thank you for what you are doing for our country.” SMaki
Greg August 13, 2012 at 01:18 AM
There is also a TV special, about the 8/11 event on PBS, Monday 8/20 @ 7:00pm. I think it is being re-broadcast on the 23rd @ 9:00pm.
Greg August 13, 2012 at 02:28 AM
I am glad your father could attend, did he enjoy it? I took my father too, it was a special night.
James R Hoffa August 13, 2012 at 03:36 AM
What a truly amazing event - Hoffa sincerely hopes that all of our veterans enjoyed such a wonderful salute to their service and sacrifice that will never be forgotten! Three-cheers for our veterans! Hip-hip, hooray!
Greg August 13, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Hoffa, I don't care for crowds, but this event was so different. Nearly 30,000 well behaved, respectful people. Everyone left at the same time without a problem. I don't think I saw a single piece of trash on the ground. It was awesome. Hip-hip-hooray, for those who attended too.
Ron Kading August 13, 2012 at 03:56 AM
In September of 2010 I was honored to be a guardian for one of the heros of WWll, Mr. Larry Paasch. Larry served three years in the South Pacific in the Navy. That trip was a trip of a lifetime for both Larry and myself. He was 89 at the time, now at the age of 91 the thrill of reliving that Honor Flght with 30,000 others is another event that will never be forgotten. The hundreds of "Thank you" from people of all ages brough tears to both of our eyes. I would like to thank all the members of the Star and Stripes Honor Flight organization for all the hard work in making this tribute to the "greatest generation".
James R Hoffa August 13, 2012 at 04:37 AM
@Greg - Glad to hear and glad you and your father enjoyed - please pass my gratitude along to him!
Tom Knox August 13, 2012 at 04:36 PM
This message was displayed on the Jumbotron: MPTV will have an hour-long special on Field of Honor: August 20, 7pm MPTV, ch.10.1 August 23, 9pm MPTV, ch.10.1 August 23, 9pm WPT
Tom Knox August 13, 2012 at 04:45 PM
I was there as a volunteer/participant, part of the Milwaukee Male Chorus, Legion of Song - we were the guys in the blue vests and blue bowties singing in the U.S.O. tent. (We are associated with American Legion Post 449 of Brookfield, on 124th St.) Awesome, impressive, stirring, emotional - it's hard to find enough words to describe the movie and the event and the Honor Flight program. By the way - if anyone has any more e-photos of our chorus (the guys in the blue vests), we would like to have copies please - we didn't have a photographer along. http://www.milwaukeemalechorus.com/ milwaukeemalechorus@wi.rr.com
Barb August 13, 2012 at 05:01 PM
As a proud member of the Patriot Guard Riders it was just an incredible honor to stand in honor and respect for these heroes. Because of them...I can hold my flag for my country. It just doesn't get any better than that. This historical event will forever be etched in my brain. I am just so sad that my dad wasn't here to see this history and be part of it. Hopefully he is looking down on us and smiling. God bless all of our heroes and our country.
Tom Knox September 18, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Stars and Stripes Honor Flight website - movie FIELD OF HONOR event 8.11.2012 http://starsandstripeshonorflight.org/events.php (includes the movie trailer) link to approximately 630 pictures of the event at Miller Park - http://starsandstripeshonorflight.org/photos.php http://gallery.vipis.com/Honor-Flight/Field-of-Honor NOTE: VIP Photo website has photo galleries for the Honor Flights since May of 2010 - http://gallery.vipis.com/Honor-Flight


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