Veteran Pays Tribute To Brother 67 Years After Losing Him In Korean War
Veteran Jacob DeHaan Shares His Brother's Story On The Latest Veterans Honor Flight
Veterans Honor Flights are full of people with amazing stories of courage and sacrifice for our freedom.
On this Veterans Day, we’re highlighting one of those stories.
On last month’s Honor Flight I had the privilege to meet a veteran full of life and full or personality.
He truly made of the most of his Honor Flight experience, but not for himself. He was on a mission for someone close to him who never got the chance.
This was a trip of a lifetime for veteran Jacob DeHaan.
He says, “I never dreamed I was gonna be in Washington D.C. for a celebration.”
It took a long time for the Red Lake Falls, Minnesota native to make it all the way to our nation’s capital.
He adds, “I wanted to do it in the service but I just didn’t get around to traveling.”
He served more than 60 years ago, in 1957 and 1958. He didn’t get to come to D.C. then, but he’s making up for it now.
In fact, the timing was pretty good. The Honor Flight took off on Jacob’s 80th birthday.
He joined more than 90 other veterans to see the monuments built for him and other veterans, even enduring pouring rain to watch the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier.
He says, “Perfect. I always say they do it in the rain, and I have to be here in the rain.”
DeHaan was thrilled to be there. But this journey came with a greater purpose. DeHaan is the baby of his family, and followed five brothers into the military.
He says, “I was only 17 and a half when I went in, and when I went to basic training my brothers told me ‘you’re gonna have to learn discipline’.”
His oldest brother never got the chance to see these monuments.
Joseph DeHaan died in Korea in 1952, where DeHaan would serve a few years later. He was only 21.
That made the visit to the Korean War Memorial DeHaan’s most important stop of the Honor Flight.
DeHaan had tears walking through the memorial, a memorial for Jacob’s brother.
He’s making sure we don’t forget him.
He described him. “6 foot 7. Tall. Very engineered. He could fix stuff, work. He could invent anything.”
He shared stories about his brother, saying, :He had a chance to stay in the United States but he wanted to go see the world. He was engaged to his girlfriend. He was gonna come back and get married.”
He left a momento behind to put a face to the people who sacrificed everything for our freedom.
On a trip designed to honor the veterans still with is, Jacob made sure the departed don’t become the forgotten.
“We don’t forget”, he says. “Everyone’s keeping the veterans in memory.”
And we won’t forget Jacob’s own service. His family surprised him during a raucous welcome back to Fargo.
He says, “I didn’t expect this many to be here. I thought just a few.”
One of his daughters says, “I mean it’s just awesome. He’s never been to Washington D.C. and we’ve been following along with him.
A trip full of laughs and tears for Jacob. And a mission fulfilled.