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Capturing An Emotional Honor Flight


By: Bruce Gibb

Every now and then, a shoot comes along with extra significance.

Thanks to Snap-on Incorporated we had the privilege to see and document firsthand an Honor Flight. Plum’s cameras traveled to Washington D.C. to follow a contingent of Korean and Vietnam war veterans as they beheld their memorials. Very nobly, Snap-on sponsors honor flights for their retirees and active associates who served in Vietnam, Korea and WWII.

The Honor Flight is extremely well-organized event and an absolute class act. From the throngs of volunteers and military personnel waving flags and cheering the vets on at the airport send-off, to the police escort through the streets of Washington D.C., to volunteers that line the entryways of the memorials to greet, salute and shake hands with the vets, the veterans are treated with utmost dignity. And as a result, there is an outpouring of emotion. For many vets, this is their long-awaited homecoming.


The weather forecast looked grim beforehand, but Mother Nature smiled on us that morning with warm temps and sunny skies. Our first stop was the huge WWII memorial, and then we moved on to the Korea and Vietnam memorials.
On a shoot like this, it’s critical to be unobtrusive. This was a very emotional day for the vets, and we made sure not to interfere with their experience. We brought a variety of cameras to serve different purposes, with Videographer Jason Klappa doing double duty- he had two small cameras that he could switch between, depending on the shot.

The Vietnam War memorial, with its seemingly-endless list of names, is a humbling place. We captured footage of a veteran working with a volunteer to look up the name of a buddy he had served alongside. We had the privilege of witnessing this veteran trace the name of his friend who had fallen so many years ago.

 At the Korean War memorial we documented a soldier recalling his battlefield experience to his granddaughter. All around you are the faces of soldiers emotionally letting go of suppressed memories. There is pride. There is grieving. There is joy. It is overwhelmingly moving.

Although the crew members had all been to D.C. as tourists before, this was an entirely different experience. We had the opportunity to see the monuments and memorials through the veterans’ eyes.

On this honor flight… the honor was all ours.

ken-bruce-jason-honor-flight-01.png From left: Ken Schellin, Bruce Gibb and Jason Klappa.