Navy Vietnam Veteran David Bartlett, 77, served from October 1965 until December 1969. Diagnosed with terminal lung disease, Bartlett reached out to the Dream Foundation with a dream to join the Kansas Honor Flight, a journey of honor and remembrance for Veterans to visit memorials in Washington, D.C.

“It’s an honor. I’m excited to see the Vietnam War memorial.”

Bartlett needed help with financing the trip for his guardian and friend Michael Suarez, also a Vietnam Veteran. The Dream Foundation helps make applicants’ dreams come true.

“It’s an honor, and I’m very excited to see the Vietnam War memorial and take Mike with me,” Bartlett said.

A special Dream delivery was presented by fellow Vietnam Veteran Gene Saxton from Robert J. Dole VA in Wichita, Kansas, and by the local Kindred Hospice.

Fifth District VFW Commander and chairman of the Hutchinson Kansas Honor Flight John Hooker met with Juarez and Bartlett to share the flight details and congratulate them on the opportunity.

They began their journey on May 8.

Visited numerous Veteran memorials

Bartlett and Suarez visited Ft. McHenry, the U.S. Navy Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial during their dream trip.

Photographer Val Proudkii captured images of the friends while they visited each memorial and helped Suarez push Bartlett’s wheelchair to the various sites.

Three days later, the pair safely returned to Wichita where they were welcomed home by friends and family.

“He enjoyed every bit of it,” says Judy, Bartlett’s wife. “Everyone thought David and Michael were celebrities with the photographer. When they returned, we all took pictures together after their ceremony. David says the trip was well worth the experience.”

By Shawn M. Hinkle is chief of the Center for Development and Civic Engagement at the Robert J. Dole VA

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Published on Jun. 11, 2022

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2 Comments

  1. Jerry McCauley June 16, 2022 at 6:24 pm

    On Oct 7, 2016, I had the privilege of being my Uncle Don McCauley, a WWII Iwo Jima Navy Veteran, Guardian, Courtesy of Honor Flight Southland in Southern California. Coincidentally, Oct 7 was my uncles 94th birthday. As a Viet Nam, Navy Veteran, Soldiers Wish.org in Tulsa , Oklahoma.paid for my round trip flight and hotel in Los Angeles CA.

    The Honor Flight Southland organization is to be commended for the way in which they honor those who have served. My uncle unfortunately passed in January 2021, but he and I will never forget the humbling experience of meeting Senator Bob Dole who at the time was at the WWII Memorial every Saturday to pay his respects.

  2. Mark W Haddow June 12, 2022 at 2:25 pm

    September 1999, I was able to go on the Honor Flight, out of southern Florida/ Ft Lauderdale. If any Veteran has the opportunity on going, I highly recommend it. All the Memorial’s are breath taking. Arlington Cemetery goes forever and brought tears to my eyes along with the Vietnam Wall. At the end of the day I met a Marine One Star General. I was lost for words. He thanked me for my service and I apologized that I wasn’t in uniform to salute him. Instead I asked it would be an honor and a privilege if I could shake his hand. I did.

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