Morgan County Correspondent

A day of honor and healing

Eminence resident and Vietnam veteran Blaine Parker pauses for a photo with his son-in-law Sid Eisenhour by the gravesite of Medal of Honor winner and Hollywood star Audie Murphy at Arlington National Cemetery during their Indy Honor Flight visit on Oct. 28. (IHF courtesy photo)

WASHIINGTON, D.C. — Eminence resident and U.S. Army Vietnam veteran Blaine Parker was ready and waiting at 3:30 a.m. for his son-in-law Sid Eisenhour to pick him up and take him to an early breakfast as part of his Indy Honor Flight Day experience on Oct. 28.

Parker, who saw combat as a radio operator, was excited and honored to make the trip to Washington, D.C. to see the Vietnam War Memorial and the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery.

It was the 41st trip for Indy Honor Flight, leaving Plainfield High School by bus to the Indianapolis International Airport where they fly into Ronald Reagan National Airport and are greeted by well wishers.

According to Indy Honor Flight Chairman Dale True, each flight visits the Changing of the Guard, the World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korea War Memorial and the Vietnam Wall.

If time permits, there are sometimes stops at the Air Force Memorial and a driving tour around the Iwo Jima Memorial.

“Each stop allows for a window of time to explore the memorial or area before the group moves to the next top in the schedule,” True said.

There are some surprises along the way in the air and on the ground. The veterans and guardians arrive at the homecoming back at Plainfield High School to the sound of bagpipes. They then walk down a long hall lined with Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops holding flags and welcoming them home.

Parker waited at the corner of the hall for his name to be announced before proceeding into the gymnasium. What happened when he turned the corner, well, that’s the biggest surprise of all — a homecoming reception like he’d never seen before.

According to Parker’s wife of 57 years, Gracie, “he is still smiling.”

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