Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Honor Flight: Unexpected surprises for one veteran

Leon is surprised by his grandchildren.
Credit VIP Photography
“The whole day was just seamless,” said We Energies employee and guardian Ted Sneigowski.

Ted’s father, Leon, said it was one of the greatest days of his life. His great day became even more memorable due to some special surprises along the way. Two of Leon’s grandchildren decided to surprise Leon at the memorial. Leon’s grandson, Conrad, and his girlfriend flew in from Florida, while his granddaughter, Laura, traveled from her home in Virginia.

Leon stepped off the tour bus at the Korean War Memorial and Laura came around the corner and greeted her grandfather. While he embraced Laura, Conrad came around the other side asking for a hug.

“The surprise on his face said it all,” said Ted.
Leon's grandson showing off his
American Hero sign.

The surprise of his oldest grandchildren was unexpected and wonderful, but Conrad had one
more surprise up his sleeve. He kneeled down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Courtney,
at the Lincoln Memorial. He really wanted his grandfather to be there for that special moment. Courtney said yes.

Leon said there were so many wonderful moments, but the crowning moment for him was on the trip back when he opened over 40 letters and cards during the flight’s “mail call” from his family, friends and We Energies employees.

“He couldn’t believe that people took the time to write to him,” said Ted.

After more than a dozen hours under his belt that day, Leon was looking forward to landing in Milwaukee and processing his reflections of the

Leon's family at the airport.
However, he was again taken aback by another surprise. Thousands of people, along with active duty and military personnel, greeted him and   the other veterans in a parade at Mitchell International Airport.

“It was a tear-jerking moment,” said Leon. He was thrilled to see his family waiting for him.

“The whole trip couldn’t have been more perfect,” said Leon.

For Ted, the experience brought him closer to his father and revealed a little more about a chapter in his father’s life he never knew.

“I learned more about my father in just one day than in the past 50 years,” said Ted.

Ted added that he is so grateful for the opportunity to have gone on this trip with his father, and very grateful that We Energies was involved in the sponsorship. 

“I have never been so proud to be a We Energies employee,” said Ted.

The first of a group of flights dubbed “Operation Parallel” successfully brought over 180 veterans to see their memorials on Sept. 12. The veterans were joined by their guardians and 25 additional volunteers in Washington, D.C., to see the Korean War Memorial, WWII Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “Operation Parallel” is a nod to the fact that the Korean War was fought over the 38th parallel. The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight was sponsored by We Energies.

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