Dollar Bay resident well supported during Honor Flight

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dollar Bay resident Paul Milanowski Sr. might have set an unofficial Upper Peninsula Honor Flight record for most family and friends meeting up with a veteran while in the nation’s capital.

And a couple of those folks came from great distances to cheer him on Wednesday. They came south, from Alaska.

Milanowski was joined on the flight by his son, Paul Jr., who served as his father’s guardian on the trip, flying in to Escanaba to be with his dad on the journey. Another Milanowski son, Tim, came to Washington from Alaska.

Others who met up with Milanowski included the Rev. and Mrs. Robert Crane, their son Gen. Kenneth Crane (retired) and his two children; David Briar, a retired Air Force colonel; and another friend, Kim Welliver, who is from Staunton, Virginia, but met the Milanowski family in Alaska as well.

A U.S. Army veteran who served during the Korean War, Milanowski hails from Detroit originally.

“I was an Army ordinance man who ended up as an automotive engineer,” he said with a smile.

His ties to the Upper Peninsula began during his days at the University of Michigan, where he played hockey for four years and had a teammate named John MacInnes. MacInnes, of course, is the celebrated hockey coach from Michigan Tech University.

In 1959, Milanowski and his family left Michigan to move to Alaska, where he wrote Bible translations. It wasn’t until a visit to the U.P. in the 1990s that he became familiar with the area, thanks to an invite from John MacIness’s son, Scott, who served as Houghton’s city manager for quite a long time.

It was through that friendship that Milanowski made the move to become a Dollar Bay resident.

“Life in the U.P.? I like it. It’s wonderful in many ways.”

Milanowski said he had read in the newspaper about U.P. Honor Flight, but it was another contact that convinced him to apply to be part of the trip.

“A gentleman who had been on the Honor Flight was wearing the jacket and cap he received as part of the trip. He told me I should go, so I applied,” he said. “I wanted to have Paul come along as my guardian and it all worked out.”

At the end of the busy day of travel, seeing monuments and meeting with myriad friends, old and new, Milanowski was happy to have been a part of the journey.

“It was wonderful. Just wonderful,” he said. “I am so blessed to have been able to go.”

Wednesday’s trip marked Upper Peninsula Honor Flight’s 10th mission bringing World War II and Korean War veterans to the monuments in their honor in Washington, D.C. The first mission was in September, 2011.

Scott Knauf, who took over as the organization’s president with this mission, was pleased with how things went.

“It was a great trip,” Knauf said as the participants loaded back on the plane at Reagan National Airport Wednesday evening. “Everyone had a great time and the weather was beautiful here in D.C. and in Escanaba, too.”

Wednesday’s flight brings the total of veterans taken to the nation’s capital through U.P. Honor Flight to nearly 800.

Mission XI is scheduled for Sept. 21. For more information, visit uphonorflight.org.

By Renee Prusi

Mining Journal (Marquette)