I headed to Jeff City with my gear loaded in my car on Monday afternoon. I wanted to be sure that it would work and if it didn't I had time to find something else to make it work! When I arrived at Jefferson City Nursing Rehabilitation Center I found Mr. Malone in therapy. I introduced myself and told him what I was doing. I started carrying everything in to his room and getting it set up. Just as I got done he came back to his room. I had sent a few requests to some awesome G+ peeps and Bruce Garber from Boston logged on to help us test everything! With his help we needed to get some speakers and a power strip as some of the outlets weren't working in the room. (I needed more than one outlet for all my stuff!) So we chatted with Bruce for a bit and then I ran to Best Buy to get what I needed.
Chief Malone (I called him Mr. Malone until,with the help of Chad LaFarge, did I find out how he would like to be called) was so sweet and so understanding. I was able to install speakers and the power strip and was ready to hang out again to make sure we were good to go in the morning. (You ever tried to find stuff at 7:00 am when you need it by 8:00 am?) We hung out with Chad and then Sarah Hill popped in! I think we were all ready to go for in the morning! I spent nearly 3 hours with Chief Malone and found out some great things about him!
He was born on November 14, 1926 to parents Irene Wilson Malone & Michael Robert Malone. He was born in Phelps County or rural Newburg. He had 9 brothers and sisters: Lloyd, Minnie, Alta, Reba, Molly, Patrick, Charlotte "Cookie", Jimmy and Linda. He "enhanced" his age and went to the US Navy when he was 15 and he couldn't figure out why he wasn't getting any mail. Well people had to know you were gone to get mail so he wrote his friend Blondie Kaiser. Chief Malone didn't know that Blondie couldn't read so he took the letter to Chief Malone's aunt to read it to him. Once she knew where he was she told his mom and she contacted the government and they kicked him out. It wasn't long after that he turned 18 and re-joined. He enlisted in the US Army Air Force until September 1947 when the Army broke away from the Air Force. Then he was in the US Air Force. He served 24 years in the military and served in 3 wars. World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War. He quickly moved up the ranks and was one of the youngest and fastest men to move up the ladder earning Chief Master Sergeant. Something he is very proud of and should be.
He went to a dance one night in St. Louis, MO and saw a lady across the room. He told his buddies that he was going to marry that woman and she would be the mother of his children. He went over to her, leaned in and told her that he couldn't dance a lick but he would love to hold her while she danced. The rest was history. Sarah & Bob Malone married on December 2, 1950. They have 4 children: Michael Malone II, Beverly Benton, Pamela Malone & Terrie Jo Elliott. He holds degrees in Liberal Arts (Biblical Studies), Business, Education and has a Doctorate in Economics.
I really enjoyed this one on one time with him and could have listened to his stories for days!
So I arrive in Jeff City, MO around 7:00 am. Chief Malone was still in bed, awake but not ready just yet. I talked to the nurses station and they were so kind to get him up and going by 7:45 am. It was pouring down rain and I was afraid we would have issues with the wifi connection but it was good! We got started and in came Terri Jo, his daughter! He did great throughout the whole Virtual Flight and even commented on a few things. It was amazing to be there virtually as the 68 veterans got off the plane, visited their memorials and we got to see the beaches of Normandy, France through Laurent Jean Philippe as well as a tour from Michael Tucker in Australia. Truly was amazing that this was really happening in the comfort of Chief Malone's room! When I asked him what he thought he said "I've got one word.... AWESOME!" So great to allow our veterans who are to sick to travel to do this as comfortable as possible.
His daughter Terrie Jo sat right next to him and held his hand while he went on his virtual tour.
He really enjoyed seeing and hearing everyone. I couldn't believe I would hear the waves on the beach in Normandy, France. I love this idea and I think he did too!
This is how we watched. A mini net-book with a computer monitor (to make it easier to see) and speakers! It worked like a dream!
Right after the hangout ended in walked his wife Sarah! She came to spend the day with her sister for her 90th birthday but not without giving her hubby of almost 63 years a few kisses! It was so sweet to see him interact with each other! They were like two teenagers so much in love! It was wonderful meeting her and to see him light up when she walked in the room was perfect! (He had a pacemaker put in recently which is why he is there)
A special thank you to all the men and women that make the Honor Flights for our veterans possible. Today a new platform has been used to get all veterans to their memorial.... technology is a truly amazing thing that's able to take you from your living room to anywhere in the world with the click of a mouse and Google+! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!