Military service runs in my family.

I served in the army. My youngest brother served in the navy. And my son currently serves in the Air Force.

My father-in-law served in Korea. Recently, an organization invited him to take part in an “Honor Flight.” The Honor Flight Network takes aging war veterans to Washington, D.C. for a day to view the monuments of the wars in which they served. The flight lets them pay respects to comrades and gives them that long-awaited “thank you” from a grateful nation.

This is how I met Dan Svoboda, another Korean War Vet.

At an age when most of us are settling into adolescence, Dan was fighting alongside his brave comrades to preserve democracy half a world away. Though he was only 14, Dan claimed to be 18 and enlisted.

His father was right by his side.

In 1954, Dan returned home to the U.S. after serving 3 years in the Korean War. He was just 17.

Dan came home to a war-weary nation that was unable—add unwilling—to extend the full hero’s welcome to Korean War vets.

I would cross paths with this modern day hero decades later. And as a fellow veteran, I knew I had to help when I heard Dan’s story. I reached out to AT&T’s Spread the Cheer program, which lets employees submit ideas to give back to others.

My idea? Nominate Dan Svoboda to go on his own “Honor Flight.”

The team chose my idea. And not only was I able to send Dan on the flight, I went with him. Together, we spent the day with other veterans and experienced the love this nation has for its service men and women. It was an incredible honor I’ll never forget.  

But don’t just take my word for it. Watch to experience Dan’s Honor Flight for yourself. And don’t forget to share your love of our nation’s veterans on social media using #ThankOurHeroes.

Jim Novak
Jim Novak Lead Billing Ops Manager