Bodfish veteran attends Honor Flight

Air Force Veteran Jo Aguilar at the VFW hall after he attended the Honor Flight trip with his daughter

Photos and Story by Catherine Stachowiak 

United States Air Force Veteran, Joseph Aguilar of Bodfish, CA was an Honor flight recipient. With his daughter as his companion “Guardian,” he left for his flight April 22, spending the night in Bakersfield, before departing on the flight to Washington DC.  The flight returned to Bakersfield, April 26.

Aguilar enlisted in the US Air Force, to fight in Vietnam after high school and swore his oath, in 1969. He was honorably discharged after an injury during training.

Coming from a long line of military veterans, Aguilar had lots of friends, family and neighbors who served in Vietnam in the Air force, Army and the Marines. He recalls how he wrote his older brother letters while his brother served in the US Army.  

“The Honor Flight was great,” Aguilar said.  The flight was about 5 hours long. Aguilar said he most enjoyed the food he considered tasty, and said the accommodations were comfortable. “We went off to visit the Navy Memorial, Arlington Cemetery and we saw the Army, the Vietnam Wall, (and) the Smithsonian Institute.”

Aguilar said the veterans visited the Pentagon Memorial commemorating 911.  They went to the Lincoln Memorial. They also went to the Korean Memorial.  

Because his brother served, in Vietnam, Aguilar most appreciated the Vietnam Memorial. He found out names would be added, to the memorial, of those who died due to results of damages from the war as his brother did in the 1990s.

Aguilar also said it was a really touching moment when he overheard a father telling his son what the veterans did, serving the country, to protect the freedoms of Americans.  And they later saw a news story about it. “It hit hard to remind us of what we fought for and what we signed up for. And that was the big joy of it.” 

Upon the return of the flight a welcoming committee was waiting for the veterans. The vets received notes from students thanking them for their service.  Each veteran also received a patriotic blanket as a gift.  “As we went through the airport, towards the exit, all these people were there with flags and posters.  Small kids were all thanking us and shaking hands of veterans,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar plans to attend the next Honor Flight Breakfast. He also recommends others enjoy the Honor Flight and hopes veterans will claim the VA benefits they are entitled to.   He said he hoped to meet up later with some of the veterans he met on the trip.