In 1954, a 17-year-old war veteran returned home to the United States.

That’s right. At the tender age of just 17 – when many of his friends were preparing for their junior prom – Dan Svoboda was coming back from the Korean War after more than 3 years overseas.

It was a different time. Just 6 years before Dan left for Korea, World War II ended. Some 16 million Americans served during that time, so you can imagine it wasn’t easy to get volunteers to turn around and head back to the South Pacific. It’s still hard to imagine 14-year-old Dan, his Army veteran father by his side, at the enlistment office, claiming to be 18.

The World War II soldiers returned to parades. The Korean War soldiers returned to silence.

AT&T employee Jim Novak wanted to give Dan the homecoming he felt the veteran deserved. Jim works in the billing department in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His father-in-law had recently traveled with Honor Flight, an organization that flies aging war veterans to Washington, D.C., for a day to view the monuments of their wars and pay their respects.  It’s a chance for the veterans to get a big thank you for their service.

The AT&T Spread the Cheer program allows employees like Jim to submit ideas: what would you do with some extra money to brighten someone else’s day?

Jim’s idea was selected. Jim not only got to send Dan on an Honor Flight, but he also was able to go along for the day as Dan’s guide. Click the video below to join Jim, Dan, and a plane full of American heroes on this adventure from Milwaukee to Washington. You won’t believe the way countless strangers in 2 cities came together to give these soldiers a homecoming they’ll never forget.

 

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