Honor Flight Nevada: The Guardians

Reported by: Ashley Cullins
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Updated: 5/12 2:09 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- Honor Flight Nevada takes our World War II Korea and Vietnam veterans to the nation's capitol to see the monuents in their honor. To help the vets make the most of the experience, the organizers recruit volunteers to act as guardians.

"These men and women enriched my life," Claudia Wiles said.

Wiles is an Honor Flight Nevada guardian. She's also a former Marine from a military family, and she's thankful to be giving back. 

"It's an incredible experience," she said. "I want to take every single one of the veterans here home with me."
 
"I was looking for something very rewarding and something I could get behind that was bigger than anything else I've ever done," said guardian James Forbus. 

Forbus said each of the veterans is an inspiration.

"Whether they were chipping paint on a ship in the Pacific or in the Battle of Midway, they all answered the call," he said. "They all did their job, and by the grace of God they made it back."

Guardian Barbara Starr said seeing the trip firsthand is an honor.

"It's hard to tell your stories," she said. "So for me to stand back and hear the guys perhaps sometimes the first time they're just telling their stories, you can't not feel what they feel. It's really beautiful."

Honor Flight Nevada Founder Jon Yuspa said the guardians are there make sure the veterans are safe and happy. 

"They're very humble and they won't ask, but once you do it they don't think that we're coddling them," he said. "They just feel like they're being treate like royalty."

He said the trips couldn't happen without them. 

"We don't need guardians if we don't have veterans, and if we have veterans we can't bring them without guardians," Yuspa said. "They are the backbone of the program."
 
While their hard work is vital, they say it never feels like work.

"[It's a] tremendous responsiblity, however, a very tremendous honor and very humbling at the same time," Forbus said.

"[They're] coming up to me and saying thank you for what you're doing for us, and I'm like 'oh my god this is my pleasure to do it for you,'" Wiles said.

Wiles said she'll remember this trip forever and she'd love to be a guardian again.

"It's not just a weekend," she said. "This is something that's going to last me for the rest of my life. I will draw upon this experience forever, and lessons that I've learned here and things that I've heard here I will tell my kids and my grandkids and anyone else who's willing to listen."
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