TROY — You could call Larry Blackmore a “veteran’s veteran.”
The lifelong Troy resident has been a volunteer with Honor Flight Dayton for the past 10 years, logging some 62 flights to Washington, D.C., helping veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War travel to our nation’s capital to visit their war memorials.
Blackmore, himself a Vietnam veteran, began volunteering with Honor Flight in 2009. After taking Guardian Training, he began traveling with veterans on every flight. Honor Flight Guardians are charged with the well-being of veterans who make the trip. Hundreds of details from wheelchairs to medical safety are part of every flight.
When Honor Flight initiated a new program several years ago, “Honoring Yesterday’s Heroes,” Blackmore stepped forward to take the reins. “Honoring Yesterday’s Heroes” is a program to remember veterans who either cannot make the trip or who have passed away. Family members provide a photograph of their veteran, which Blackmore then takes to Washington, D.C., where he posts the image, along with an American flag, and “Honoring Yesterday’s Heroes” plaque, at either the World War II, Korean War, or Vietnam Memorial. A photograph of the veteran is taken and later presented to the family.
“It’s the best volunteer thing I can think of to do,” said Blackmore, speaking of the Honor Flight program.
As a veteran of the Vietnam War, Blackmore knows firsthand the commitment our veterans make to defending our country and sense of pride that goes along with being a veteran.
Blackmore served in the United States Air Force from 1968-1972 and spent one year in southeast Asia. During his tour, he was stationed in both Vietnam and Thailand as part of Air Force Security Forces.
Following his return to the United States, he was assigned as a member of an Air Force Honor Guard, where he helped to provide military honors at funerals and other special events.
Blackmore believes that volunteering with Honor Flight is an extension of his military honor guard assignment. “What we are doing here is just as good,” said Blackmore.
In addition to the “Honoring Yesterday’s Heroes” program, Blackmore has seen other changes take place during his time with Honor Flight.
When he began volunteering, a typical trip to Washington, D.C., involved a standard commercial flight where 30-35 veterans would make the trip.
Today, Honor Flight Dayton flies aboard American Airlines charter aircraft.The most recent trip on April 14 saw 116 veterans get to visit their war memorials. There were 181 total passengers. In addition to the veterans, Guardians to take care of the veterans, eight nurses, and Honor Flight staff make the trip.
Blackmore intends to stay on a a volunteer, but hopes to have some time to travel. He and his wife, Sharon, have been married for 38 years. The couple have two grown children, Jared and Meredith.
The “Honoring Yesterday’s Heroes” program is being left in good hands, as longtime volunteer and Champaign County resident Greg Schafer will be taking over on future flights.
Blackmore sees his years of volunteering with Honor Flight as doing what is meant to be — veterans taking care of each other.
Reach Mike Ullery at email@example.com or (937) 451-3335