Herman "Herk" Streitburger hadn't experienced much of life when he enlisted in the service during WWII. Of all the things he had to learn in a hurry about being a wartime U.S. soldier, becoming a prisoner of war was the one that would test him to his limits.
He was a gunner in a B24 Liberator Bomber when he was shot down, becoming a prisoner of the Germans for the next year.
After the war ended, and his life went on, that experience didn't define Streitberger; but it has made him who he is today – a man who knows how to get things done. A hard worker who loves his family and who will never forget those left behind, who never made it back to the home front.
Thursday night Streitburger, of Bedford, joined about a dozen of his fellow New Hampshire war veterans and more than 150 others at the Cinemagic in Hooksett. They were invited to for a special screening of "Honor Flight: The Movie," a touching, heart-wrenching documentary which tells the story of a Wisconsin community's incredible outpouring of support for their local veterans and the formation of the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight division. [See two movie trailers uploaded with this story.]
The move also tells the story of of how, over time, more than 100 Honor Flight missions like the one in Wisconsin have sprung up around the country, all with a common goal: Fly every WWII veteran who is willing and able, to Washington, D.C., to see their war memorial.
Streitburger was on the inaugural voyage of Honor Flight New England in 2009, organized by founder Joe Byron, a former Manchester Police officer who is part of a dedicated team that have so far coordinated 25 flights for 726 veterans from across New England, seeing to it that every local veteran who is willing and able, has the opportunity to make this journey, at not cost to them.
The mission will resumed in 2013.
[Take 5 minutes to watch a slideshow of the group's trip to Washington, D.C., for the screening of Steven Spielberg's epic film, "Pacific," uploaded with this story.]
Following the movie premiere, Jack Merrill of Manchester, who also flew on the first New England Honor Flight, said he was impressed with the film – almost as much as he was with his Honor Flight experience.
"I believe it's really the volunteers who are critical," Merrill said. "It was a wonderful experience, one I'll never forget."
Another regional screening of "Honor Flight: The Movie" is scheduled for Dec. 10 in Dedham, Mass., at Showcase Cinema de Lux Legacy Place. Byron said the film was being shown by special arrangement in select theaters throughout the month of December. The public is invited to request a screening by contacting email@example.com.Reserve your tickets for the Dec. 10 Dedham showing here
Honor Flight New England cannot make this happen without the generosity of individual and business supporters through donations. Click here to learn how to help.
They are also always recruiting volunteers and Guardians, who accompany the veterans on flights.
For more information about Honor Flight New England, contact Joe Byron at 603-518-5368, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Toll free: 1-877-WW2-VETS or 1-877-992-8387.
You can "like" Honor Flight New England on Facebook and learn how to get involved locally.
Or write to: Honor Flight New England, PO Box 16287, Hooksett, NH 03106.
2013 Honor Flights are currently being planned. If you know a veteran who would like to make the trip, fill out an application (see attached pdf) or go to honorflightnewgland.org.
BONUS: Read my 2010 blog post following my trip as a Guardian on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.