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Voyage of Valor 2019

In partnership with GHC Housing Partners, Wish of a Lifetime sent 14 veterans from seven different states to Washington D.C. for the very first time to see the memorials that were erected in their honor. From the monuments, to the U.S. Capitol where the group met with congressmen, to the final dinner overlooking the city at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, this group of veterans had a well-deserved experience they will never forget!

Ninety-one-year-old Russ served 20 years in the Marine Corps shortly following the end of WWII. Even though Russ didn’t serve on active duty during WWII, he did play a part in the Allies winning the war. When Russ was about 16 years old, he and a few other classmates were pulled out of school for a job that would unknowingly change their lives forever. 

Throughout 1944 and 1945, Russ and his classmates would go to school for half a day and then spend the rest of their day tasked with riveting a plane at a bomber factory in Omaha for 66 cents an hour. What Russ and his friends didn’t know, is that they were actually working on one of the most important planes in American History…The Enola Gay. While controversial, many believe the Enola Gay is what ended the war in the Pacific and prevented an even greater escalation and the loss of more lives.

Russ hadn’t seen the plane he riveted as a young man since his high school days nearly 75 years ago. For decades, it had been his dream to visit the Enola Gay with his son Mark. On April 30, 2019, Russ finally got his chance. With the Voyage of Valor group, Russ and his son Mark visited the Udvar Hazy Museum where the Enola Gay is displayed. The experience was emotional for Russ, but as soon as he was handed a microphone, he lit up and gave a whole crowd a living history lesson!