INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – By definition, every Honor Flight is special. Each one is designed to make veterans feel like the heroes they really are. But the most recent Honor Flight is even more noteworthy because it was the 25th flight for the organization’s Indianapolis hub.
Donations have paid to send 25 groups of Hoosiers to visit the memorials to their service in Washington, D.C. Many of them went for the first time.
"I guess I'm just lucky to be still alive to do this. I really enjoy it. It's not anything I thought I'd be able to do," said veteran Floyd Groover.
But this Honor Flight is also special because of who did not go. Jim Griggs served his country in the Air Force in Korea before settling down on the west side of Indianapolis and working in the heating and cooling business. He was active at the St. Monica Catholic Church before a heart condition slowed him down. Service and country meant a lot to Jim, which is why he signed up for this Honor Flight.
"He looked forward to this day so much, the day we checked him into the hospital the last thing he told the cardiologist was 'I have an Honor Flight in October, I want to make sure I'm out of here and ready to go,'" said Jim’s son, Rick Griggs.
Jim passed away a few weeks before this flight, but he was represented by four of his best friends. All of them served in Korea and knew each other from St. Monica. They golfed together, vacationed together and raised their families together. Jim organized this trip for them before he died.
"He was the instigator of this trip, all of us came here for the Honor Flight and it's even more than he expected I know," said veteran Bob Wahlstrom.
Emotions always flow freely at the memorials in Washington, but even more so for the St. Monica group. They miss their friend and feel him here all at the same time.
"We all think of him when you're making the tour, there's no way you can't stop but wish that Jim were here. We still think of him. He's here...not physically, but he's here,” said veteran Albert Rodgers.
You won’t find Jim Grigg’s name on any memorial in Washington, but that doesn’t matter much to his friends. They already know how he’ll be remembered.
"Good father, good husband, good friend...Jim was just good,” said veteran Jim McGuire.