Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hero Tour - Mankato, Minnesota

April 7, 2015 ~ Brandon and I had the pleasure of traveling to Mankato, Minnesota today to take this World War II veteran on a Hero Tour. The Twin Cities Honor Flight was unable to take him on their honor flight so when I caught wind of this I knew I wanted to help!

So what exactly is a "Hero Tour"? 
The best way to describe this is that it is a virtual honor flight where volunteers help at various locations to show our veteran(s) various memorials throughout the United States but not limited to the world. (For example: We have seen Pearl Harbor, USS Alabama, the beaches of Normandy in France and memorials in Canada) These Hero Tours are somewhat specific to each veteran as no two Hero Tours are the same. On this particular one we would have Sara Hill in Columbia, MO with a veteran on hospice, John Butterill in Canada, Jennifer at the World War II memorial in Washington, DC with my hubby and I in Mankato, MN! 

This would be a whirlwind trip as we would fly to Minnesota and be back the same day! In true Spry fashion this wild trip would begin with a hail storm! It was the craziest thing we have seen and we still can't believe it didn't bust the windows out in Brandon's truck. It started around the Millersburg exit and really got crazy at the Hatton exit! Traffic was slowed down and stopped at one point but we just wanted to get ahead of the storm so we didn't miss our flight! 
(Thank goodness for insurance as it caused about $8,000 in damage to Brandon's truck!)

Finally we made it to the airport.... 

On the way to Mankato we decided to stop by Henderson, MN for some lunch!
 We found this great little place.... 
It was an ice-cream / sandwich shop with a pharmacy in it! Really cool place and it was fun talking to the owner and our waitress! When I asked for sweet tea she knew we weren't from around there!
Oh and just so you know... soda isn't soda up there... it's pop!

We had a bowl of Potato Soup! Yum! 
Then we had a ham and orange marmalade sandwich... interesting combination!

We made it to Mankato, MN! 
We were impressed with a beautiful facility Path Stone Living is! 

Mr. Valliant and his daughter Veronica! 

The total Hero Tour was about an hour long. Mr. Valliant enjoyed this experience as we all did. It is truly an honor to be among a true hero and have the ability to be able to show him his memorial. Although I wish he could see it in person this was certainly the next best thing!

After the virtual tour he had some very special mail to open! This piece of mail was from a Midway Heights Elementary School student from Columbia, MO!
(If you can't see the video click on the link below: )

He also received Stephen R. Brown's book "Jewel of the Mall" as a gift from the Central Missouri Honor Flight out of Columbia, MO!
(If you are interested in your own copy or a copy as a gift please visit Stephen R. Brown's website: to purchase a book or two!)

I gave Mr. Valliant one of my challenge coins that I had made to give out randomly to military men and women on our many travels. He was so proud of this small gesture that he didn't let it go!

It was an honor and a pleasure being able to spend time with this very special World War II veteran.
I am so glad that we were able to travel to him and be a small role to taking him virtually to see his memorial and that technology like this is available to do this. Thank you to everyone that made this day possible as I know it meant a lot to Mr. Valliant and his family!

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