Bud Inslee of Connell, Wash., sat in a crowd at Spokane International Airport this morning waiting for his Honor Flight to board.
He had the gleam of a man looking forward to something special.
Inslee was among 34 aging veterans who are spending two days in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., this week, touring the nation’s capital and the numerous monuments erected in honor of the country’s military sacrifices.
“It means a lot,” he said of being invited on the third trip this year of the Honor Flight organization, a nonprofit that takes vets to see their national heritage.
Like most of the vets who go on Honor Flights – 500 of them now from the Inland Northwest - Inslee has never seen the great American veteran monuments.
“I’ve always been meaning to get back there,” said the former B-17 Air Corps gunner. He was too young to see action, going into the military near the end of World War II.
Inslee went on to serve as a police officer and later a Columbia River hydro dam worker.
The terminal ticket area was packed for the sendoff and a special dedication to the memory of U.S. Army Spc. Jarrod Allen Lallier, the Mead High School graduate who was killed in Afghanistan last June.
Members of the Inland Northwest Honor Flight chapter presented Lallier’s family with a memorial plaque. Students and friends of Lallier mixed with the veterans.
“Jarrod had the spirit of service that shined through all aspects of his life,” said Tony Lamanna, director of Honor Flight, during a brief ceremony.
Lallier was a paratrooper assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, N.C.
He was on his first deployment to Afghanistan. He died when insurgents dressed as Afghan police opened fire on his unit, killing Lallier and wounding eight others.
Lallier was standing guard at the time, said Lamanna, who described Lallier as “dependable and selfless.” He had been recovering from an ear injury suffered during an earlier attack involving an improvised explosive. The attack claimed the lives of two of his closest friends, Lamanna said.
“This loss is a loss to all of us,” Lamanna told the crowd.
For his bravery, Lallier was awarded a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, National Defense Service Medal and other military honors.
Lallier’s mother, Kim Lallier, standing close to husband and father Gary Lallier, showed her tears.
“It’s hard for me,” she said in a brief interview after the ceremony. “It’s nice to know they haven’t forgotten his sacrifice.”