Student surprises veteran with Honor Flight
KALISPELL, Mont. - Richard "Wayne" Bolton and Tristen Lang are nearly 70 years apart in age, but they're about to take the trip of a lifetime together.
"We're going to the Honor Flight," said Bolton.
The Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit organization that transports United States veterans, without charge, to see memorials of the wars they fought.
For 27 years Bolton served in the Marine Corps. Lang hasn't served, but he will. He's joining the Air Force in September.
Right now Lang is a student at Glacier High School. He took an interest studying the Korean War with teacher Mark Armstrong.
Armstrong met Bolton at church and introduced him to Lang. In their first meeting Bolton expressed a desire to participate in the Honor Flight Network.
"I showed up to their house that day," said Lang. "I had two applications and I said, 'You know, if you don't want to do this that's OK, but it sounded like you were interested, so if you want to fill out an application I'll fill one out with you.'"
The applications were accepted and the trip was approved.
Lang's mother packed the duo into her car for a trip to Spokane International Airport. "Half of Spokane showed up," Bolton said. "It was miles and miles and miles long."
Bolton couldn't believe his eyes. The crowd was there to see him off, along with dozens of other veterans.
Once in Washington, D.C., Bolton remembered fallen soldiers who served with him. "I had a good friend of mine that was decapitated while flying a Cobra," he said.
All he could recall was his friend's first name and address. But that was enough for Lang, "With the little info I had I looked him up," said Lang. "We were able to find where he was on the wall and got an etching of that."
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Montana is home to 102,986 veterans. That's one out of 10 Montanans. It's the highest number, per capita, in the country.
For more information on Montana and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, click here.