The adventure begins! Beginning at 3 am Sunday morning from Point Lookout, Missouri a nucleus of our group departed College of the Ozarks for the Springfield airport. Through layovers in Chicago and Tokyo, our group has expanded to 27 members, and we wait expectantly for two more veterans, Gary Littrell and Gary Wood. Quite a force to be reckoned with, the 2018 Vietnam Patriotic Education Travel Group has navigated a full day of travel while already drawing interest and questions regarding our purpose from airline personnel and passengers. Although tired and pushing through time changes and crossing the international date line, the overall spirit of our party is positive. As students, we have been eagerly preparing for these two weeks in Vietnam since last spring. While we sit in the Narita [Tokyo] Airport for our final leg of the journey, our hopes are finally being realized. Conversations and connections with our veterans are well under way and the entire group is bonding quickly because of our collective goal to educate students and honor veterans.
One such moment was when Tom Moe shared his experiences as an F-4 pilot and a F-16 pilot with Miles Mrowiec. Miles has a long history with aviation because his father was an A-10 pilot, and his uncle was an F/A-18 Marine aviator. Miles was enthralled with the wealth of information Moe willingly shared, and they bonded over their common love of aviation. In their hour-long conversation, they discussed the intricacies of the early F-16 and it’s fly-by-the-wire difficulties. It’s moments like these that provide glimpses of the education we students will glean from the six men who courageously served our country.
-Emma Bachali & Miles Mrowiec