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Travel Agents Dig Deep To Send Senior Veterans On “Last Hurrah” Flight.

Both domestic and international travel ground to a halt during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Travel agents like Julie Pflaumer of Rozet, Wyoming, struggled to make ends meet as reservations were canceled and clients’ vacations were put on hold.

Julie decided to become a travel advisor four years ago. Before that, she was a second-generation miner who worked in an open-pit coal mine. Her husband still works in the industry, but after watching so many senior miners die young, Julie decided to help people achieve their dreams to see the world today.

“Working in the mines for 10 years, I worked with men who were older,” she said. “The honest truth is I’ve had to go to a lot of funerals. Sadly, a lot of them didn’t make it to retirement.”

So when a retired veteran in his 90s called Destinations by Julie to inquire about an upcoming air show, Julie really wanted to help him out. Jack Henderson lives in an assisted living facility in Oregon. He contacted Julie about booking tickets to the Reno Air Races in Nevada in September 2021. He hoped to attend the event with friends David Crawford and Dick Snider, who are also veterans in their 90s.

“I called him back and told him air tickets would not be released until the spring and he sounded defeated,” Julie said.

One of Jack’s friends had suffered a health setback, and now he feared they wouldn’t live long enough to go to the air show together. After she hung up the phone, Julie could not stop thinking about their dilemma. She decided right then that if they couldn’t make it, she would create an air show just for them!

She did some research and found a company in Oregon called AeroLegends, which offers biplane experiences. Better yet, AeroLegends is owned and operated by a pilot who was once “rookie of the year” for the Reno Air Races! She decided to pay for Jack and his two friends to take flight out of her own pocket, but when she mentioned the idea on a Facebook group for fellow travel agents, she was overwhelmed by their response.

“One gentleman said, ‘You can count me in,’ and then it was just a domino effect,” she explained.

Before she knew it, these travel agents had sent in more than enough money for the biplane experience! The extra funds were donated to their assisted living facility.

Julie flew to Oregon to be there when Jack, David, and Dick took flight once more. One of the veterans even brought his wife’s ashes so he could scatter them from the plane. All three of them were beyond grateful for the excursion, and Jack admitted they “fell out of their chairs” when they heard what Julie and the other travel agents had done for them.

“I just couldn’t imagine something like that happening,” Jack said. “To tell you the truth, I was in shock – that people would do something like that. I am eternally grateful. We’re overwhelmed with the thought and the deed, and we appreciate it deeply.”

The entire experience made Julie appreciate our veterans more than ever. She is also incredibly thankful for the kind strangers who reached into their own pockets during an economic downturn and made this “bucket list” trip happen.

“They had all previously resigned to being too old to do this again, and thanks to the kindness and generosity of dozens of travel agents, they did,” Julie wrote on Facebook.

The combined effort of all of the people it took to make this a reality is heartwarming and I was so honored to not only be a part of it, but to also get to witness it live in person. I got to hug them and laugh with them… and cry with them. One of the coolest experiences of my life and I am forever humbled.

Thank you to all the wonderful travel agents who saw how important this was to the three veterans and made it happen!

Watch their epic flight in the video below, and don’t forget to share this story.

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