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AEP employee, retirees travel to Washington as part of Honor Flight trip

by on August 31, 2011

(Story by YaVonda Ulfig)

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — Tanners Creek Plant retiree Paul “PG” Gentrup will never forget the lump he felt in his throat as he watched several soldiers march to place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

“If it doesn’t get to you and you’re there watching it, you’re not breathing,” said Gentrup as he reflected on that soul-stirring moment.

Perhaps what made the moment even more powerful was the fact that the soldiers walking on the hallowed ground that day were friends.

Several of the trip's attendees pause at the Statue of the Three Soldiers at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Shown are (left to right): Nick Ullrich, Ernie Johnson, Mark Caplinger, Mike Lafollette, Tommy Steelman, Donnie Starker, Dick Rummel and Paul "PG" Gentrup.

Nick Ullrich, Jack Day, and Mike Lafollette — all fellow Tanners Creek retirees — received the honor of helping to place the wreath on the Tomb during the group’s recent trip to the nation’s capital as part of an Honor Flight. All four wreath presenters were Purple Heart recipients who served in the Vietnam War.

Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. Our nation’s heroes are transported to Washington to visit and reflect at their memorials.

For the recent three-day bus trip, a total of about 50 veterans boarded a chartered bus from southeastern Indiana, including 10 Tanners Creek retirees, one Rockport Plant retiree and an active Tanners Creek employee.

Those attending included Tom Steelman, Dick Rummel, Donnie Starker, Bob Karp, Mike Fortner, Jim Huff, Mark Caplinger, Ernie Johnson, Gentrup, Day, Lafollette and Ullrich.

Tanners Creek has a tight-knit group of veterans and has a display board in the lobby of the plant honoring veterans with their names, branches of service and dates.

“I feel honored to go on these trips with these guys from the AEP family,” said Gentrup, who organized the bus trip and hopes to have another trip this fall or next spring. Previous trips, he said, have included a Korean and Vietnam veterans bus trip, as well as a another trip in which World War II veterans were flown to D.C. for a day.

“”When we came home from Vietnam, we didn’t talk about it,” said Day. “You couldn’t take the pride of being a serviceman that you can today. Being in D.C. was like having a homecoming we didn’t receive when we came home from Vietnam.”

From → News From AEP

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