A HERO’S WELCOME…Our 100-year-old resident Morrie Richstone returned to John Knox Village tonight after a whirlwind tour of Washington DC to visit the capital’s many war memorials as part of an Honor Flight’s celebration of his WWII contributions. Our many wonderful residents turned out to recognize one of our favorite residents! Read more about his trip HERE.
POMPANO BEACH – 4/20/2015 – John Knox Village is honored to have several residents who have served our great nation in the military. Each November, The Village hosts a special Veterans Day celebration, as well as provides the opportunity for our veterans to attend area events. In addition, our Sharing and Caring Program provides outreach to organizations that cater to veterans in need.
However, some of our individual veterans have had the opportunity to be recognized for their past efforts and service to the United States. One of them is Morris “Morrie” Richstone, who in August celebrated his 100th birthday.
Morrie was recently informed that he will be traveling to Washington DC for a day through a local organization called Honor Flight South Florida. Morrie’s flight will be on April 25.
As stated on its Website (www.honorflightsouthflorida.org), the Honor Flight program was conceived by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and Retired Air Force Captain, who wished to honor the veterans he had taken care of for more than 27 years.
Earl’s goal was to have veterans visit the World War II Memorial, especially those who were unable to make the journey themselves. The inaugural Honor Flight took place in May of 2005. By the end of 2006, nearly 900 World War II veterans across the U.S. participated in the program. The trips are completely paid for by the organization.
The Honor Flight experience begins with an early flight from Fort Lauderdale to Washington D.C. Transportation is waiting, as the group of veterans tour the World War II Memorial, Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.
Other stops include the Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Air Force Memorial and even the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. Participants then return back that same evening.
It was in March of 1941 when Morrie was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served for 4.5 years until receiving his honorable discharge in June of 1945.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941), Morrie trained in England. On November 8, 1942, his unit fought in Oran and Algiers, large cities in Algeria, to liberate them from the domination of German and Italian forces.
He also served in Tunisia (Africa), Sicily and later was a member of the forces that liberated Rome. Some of Morrie’s proudest moments were being awarded the Bronze Star in January of 1944 and most recently appointed “Chevalier” (Knight) of the French Legion of Honor in 2013.
As far as hesitations toward the upcoming trip, Morrie jokingly stated his biggest concern “is having to wake up at 5 a.m. to get on an airplane.”
Veterans onboard have the pleasure of flying on the special Honor Flight Jet, and travel through DC on deluxe motor coach buses complete with a police escort. Each veteran also gets his/her own Guardian, a travel companion to be with them throughout the entire trip.
Morrie’s Guardian is Detective Dean Soubasis, who works with the City of Pembroke Pines Police Department. Dean learned about Morrie from his supervisor, Police Sgt. Stacy Jurgens, who is the granddaughter of Morrie’s close friend, resident Ann Grignon.
“When I heard about Morrie and discovered he was a World War II veteran, I knew he had to be considered for this flight,” said Dean, who facilitated the application for Morrie and himself to be his Guardian.
Dean’s goal is to make this trip as simple as possible for Morrie, even packing for him the night before. Dean, who has helped welcome our heroes back from these trips, also is planning ways of gathering the other veterans going and their Guardians together prior to the 25th.
Being able to visit their own memorial in Washington DC is a great honor and privilege for WWII Veterans. Many describe it as an emotional and exciting day. They are able to honor those they fought with who paid the ultimate sacrifice, often for the first time.
“We are very proud of Uncle Morrie and glad he is a resident of John Knox Village, where he continues to thrive and enjoy his active, independent lifestyle,” said Diane Dalsimer. Diane and her husband, John, are residents of The Village. Her mother, Lillian Kimmel, also is a resident, and Lillian is Morrie’s sister.
The Village congratulates Morrie for his tremendous accomplishments and wishes him the best as he travels to Washington DC.