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Pulaski native embarks on trip of a lifetime

By Abigail Peterson
Pulaski News

PULASKI – Pulaski native Mike Maroszek – part of the Maroszek family, known well for its Polka Day presence – recently embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime experience as a passenger on Old Glory Honor Flight 56.

Mike joined about 100 other war veterans April 26, on an unforgettable, day-long trip to the nation’s capital to visit the war memorials built in their honor.

A milestone in itself, this flight also included the 5,000th veteran.

During the trip, Mike said he took time to find some familiar names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall of soldiers he had known from Pulaski that had fallen during the war.

He said he was happy to see their names being honored in Washington, D.C.

Mike was nominated and accompanied on the trip by his brother, Eugene Maroszek.

Honor Flight
Mike Maroszek, left, and his brother Eugene Maroszek pose for a photo
at the Washington, D.C. airport during an Old Glory Honor Flight.

Eugene said at just 12 years old, he remembers when Mike, who was 20 at the time, was drafted into the Marines for the Vietnam War.

“Me and my wife figured since he’s a veteran, why not honor him, especially since the motto of this organization is: ‘It’s never too late to say thank you,’” Eugene said.

During the trip, Mike said he had the opportunity to exchange stories with other veterans who served in either World War II, the Vietnam War or the Korean War.

“Having the camaraderie among strangers who went through similar experiences was one of the best parts of the trip,” he said.

All Old Glory Honor Flight missions are free to all veterans – a meaningful way to say thank you for their service and sacrifice.

The trip also included mail call – where veterans received letters from family and friends thanking them for their service, a throwback to how they received news from home when they were deployed.

Mike’s daughter and friends were among those who prepared letters for him.

One of the things the Old Glory Honor Flights offer veterans is a hero’s homecoming – something many never received when they returned from the war.

When Mike got off the plane he was greeted with thunderous applause and support from about 3,000 grateful Americans.

“We were treated with respect and honor,” he said. “That was something that we deserved, but didn’t get back then.”

Eugene said the veterans received a similarly supportive reaction in Washington, D.C.

“It’s unbelievable how the people in D.C. received us. It was just continuous applause,” he said.

Eugene said the Old Glory Honor Flights are important because they help people understand the importance of respecting veterans, and give veterans a sense of knowledge that people appreciate the work and sacrifices they had to make.

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