MAINE, Maine — Louie Cohen is one of the more than 50 veterans who got to experience the memorials in our nation's capital through Honor Flight Maine's most recent trip.
After graduating high school at age 17, he went to the Naval Academy for four years, graduated, and became a second lieutenant in the United States Airforce. Cohen spent a few years doing aircraft maintenance before going back to school to incorporate engineering and logistics into aeronautical engineering.
Cohen was sent to serve in the Vietnam War to help get airplanes back in the air when they broke.
When he returned to the United States, he made sure to take advantage of all the benefits that come with serving in the military. He got five degrees, including two doctorates in math and science education.
Cohen has a message to younger veterans: "Get a degree. Get many degrees. You have that opportunity in the military."
"I did feel like I was doing something worthwhile because I would investigate and analyze crashed-in-battle damaged aircrafts," Cohen said.
The lifelong learner was one of the veterans who got the call just days before the trip, asking him if he wanted to be part of it.
"It was a surprise," Cohen said.
He was already part of the waitlist, but he didn't know when his chance would come.
Honor Flight Maine Board Chairperson Laurie Sidelinger said the goal is for every veteran in Maine to experience the memorials in Washington D.C. and not have to pay a penny.
"I was really impressed when we went to Fort Meade and all those young people -- and not just young people -- I know the sergeant major [was] there and the commander. They were there applauding. That was impressive," Cohen said.
"Many of our veterans that served don't necessarily feel that they are worthy of all of the honor and respect that the country wants to give to them," Sidelinger explained. "We go to Fort McHenry [and] Fort Meade. [On] Saturday we tour all day, all of the memorials."
"It's a great experience. It's very uplifting!" Cohen said.
NEWS CENTER Maine's Honor Flight Maine Telethon is underway. Proceeds will go toward travel costs and care for veterans who will make their way to Washington D.C. to tour the memorials, reflect, heal, and pay tribute to their fallen comrades.
CALL 855-875-4328 TO DONATE.