Friday, May 19, 2017

We Energies honors veterans through Stars and Stripes Honor Flight

On Sunday, May 21, 90 U.S. military veterans of foreign wars will travel on a   
We Energies-sponsored flight to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials that honor their service.

We Energies has been involved with Stars and Stripes Honor Flight since its inception in 2008. The company is sending two guardians to Washington with the veterans: Randy Jerome, manager customer solutions south – wholesale energy and fuels, and Renee Rabiego-Tiller, manager meter to bill process – customer service.

Both employees have family members who are veterans. In fact, Jerome comes from a military family. Both of his grandfathers served in World War II, three of his older siblings served in different branches of the military, and Jerome himself served in the Wisconsin Air National Guard.

Roland Jerome (left) and Roland Tritz (right) both served in WWII and are the grandfathers of Randy Jerome (center), pictured while serving in the Wisconsin Air National Guard. Randy will honor his grandfathers and fellow servicemen and women by acting as a guardian on Sunday’s Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. 

“In my heart, I will be traveling for my grandfathers and will be thinking of them, and the bravery of all who have served and died for the great country we live in,” Jerome said. “I also will be focused on the care of the Korean War era veteran I will be traveling with, as it is his day and I want it to be a safe, memorable and an honorable day for him. I will look forward to learning from him, should he be willing to share what his experiences were like.”

Like Jerome’s grandfathers, Rabiego-Tiller’s father served in WWII. He was a member of the 801st/492nd Air Corps, which was part of the Office of Strategic Services (a predecessor to the CIA), U.S. Special Operations Command and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. As a top gunner, he and his crew flew supplies to the resistance in occupied Europe, which meant flying at low altitudes, only at night and by moonlight, without any lights on their plane.

“All of the members were sworn to secrecy for 40 years after the war. My dad never spoke about his service until he was contacted in the mid-1990s to attend a reunion,” she said. “After he attended his first reunion, he started to slowly share stories about his experiences in the war.”

Renee Rabiego-Tiller will serve as one of two guardians from We Energies on the May 21 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. Her father, shown on right in the back row, served in World War II, flying supplies to the resistance in occupied Europe.

So Rabiego-Tiller understood when the veteran she will be escorting on the flight told her he canceled his first Honor Flight because he was not ready to go. She said he has since “done some soul searching and said he is ready now. He also will be honoring his two brothers-in-law, who are deceased, who were in WWII and never had a chance to visit their memorial.”

The guardians, as well as multiple We Energies volunteers who will assist the veterans at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport on Sunday morning, are honored to take part in the flight. Three hundred and forty-nine letters from We Energies employees will be part of mail call, a special time on the return flight when veterans read messages from friends, families and individuals they have never met expressing their gratitude. 

No comments: