Medina Journal-Register — QUANTICO, Va. — For a group of veterans from Orleans and Genesee counties, the 2012 Patriot Tour provided an opportunity to experience the camaraderie that military service breeds and visit a series of military and governmental sites around the Washington area.
The fifth-annual trip was organized by Assemblyman Steve Hawley, who served as a First Lieutenant in the Ohio Army National Guard during the Vietnam War-era and later served in the U.S. Army Reserves, and run by his Albion office. It’s based on the tour Hawley took his father, a member of Merrill’s Marauders, on in 2005 to see the then newly-dedicated memorial to World War II soldiers.
The veterans received a welcome reception throughout their trip, starting from the group that sent them off from Batavia Downs Thursday morning. John Swartzenberg, the Commandant of the Holley Hellhound Marine Corps League, Detachment 1271, was among those who lent a hand in loading the two buses with supplies.
”Steve asked us to come out,” said Swartzenberg, who has participated in trips that brought individual World War II veterans to Washington. “We’re donating supplies and food.”
Others donated to fund the trip, with more than $6,000 helping reduce the cost of the trip for veterans. This year’s trip cost around $300, down from $400 in 2008. “The generosity of the community is heartening,” said Hawley.
The trip to Washington stopped for lunch and rest stops that gave veterans a chance to socialize between generations, from World War II veterans to Air Force Technical Sergeant Philip Gaudy, who returned home just in time to go on the trip with his wife.
Army Veteran Kevin Sheehan observed the changing demographics of the tour, which started with the goal of bringing World War II veterans to Washington.
”We were among the youngest on our first trip,” said Sheehan, who traveled with his wife, Carol. “Now there’s more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. But you can’t top the World War II vets’ stories.”