126th Air Refueling Wing

Hometown: Scott AFB, IL, US

126th Air Refueling Wing
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B-roll of a 126th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135R takes off from Scot AFB, Ill. The Illinois Air National Guard flies the "Stratotanker" to provide aerial refueling...

Ransom holds war veterans’ honor in flights

Story by Senior Airman Elise Stout

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – She began volunteering for the Honor Flight Project in 2012 when she was at technical training and since then, has participated in 21 Honor Flights.

Senior Airman Heather Ransom, a Public Health Technician for the 126th Medical Group attached to the 126th Air Refueling Wing, helps to organize volunteers to welcome back veterans after they have spent a day in Washington, D.C. as part of the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight program.

At approximately 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at Lambert International Airport, an arrival gate is lined with service members in their dress uniforms, holding a salute while waiting for veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to depart the aircraft.

About 10 times a year, area veterans are flown to Washington, D.C. to tour monuments and memorials dedicated to them and to those who lost their lives in America’s wars.

Ransom is someone who helps to make these days a tremendous success.

Ransom, families, and volunteers from the services welcome their return home with applause and cheers.

“The Honor Flight program gives me a sense of pride in knowing that I am volunteering for Veterans who have sacrificed everything for you and me to live free.” said Ransom.

Ransom said that the veterans are escorted into the main airport terminal, where they are handed a certificate of appreciation by a service member.

There is an overwhelming sense of pride and joy during this entire event, said Ransom. The volunteers and veterans who are able to be a part of the honor flights experience something they will never forget.

Ransom said that she helped recruit volunteers at the 126th Air Refueling Wing.

Ransom explained why she is passionate about the program.

While serving as the morale officer for the Airmen’s Council here, Ransom plans volunteer events, and this is how she spreads the word about the honor flight.

“Senior Airman Ransom sent an invitation to senior leadership to participate,” said Chief Master Sgt. Karen Stevens, the wing command chief. “I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to get involved by supporting the Airmen in our organization as well as pay tribute to our American veterans.”

Stevens said she believes Ransom’s work with this program is “nothing short of amazing.”
“She has also taken on the endeavor to motivate wing members well above her pay grade to get involved in this emotionally stimulating event,” said Stevens. “Her enthusiasm to take on this tasking speaks volumes for her willingness to go far beyond the reasonable expectations of her and her peers.”

Trying to get people to take time out of their daily activities and lives is not an easy task, said Ransom. She sends out reminders, monthly.

“These men and women gave so much for our country, and they deserve to be honored,” said Ransom. “Just because their war has ended, does not mean our appreciation should.”

When at the 2013 Greater St. Louis Honor Flight Gala, Ransom met a veteran named Hank.

“When I went to shake his hand after the night was done to tell him ‘thank you’ for his service, he looked at me and said, ‘No, thank you for serving and keeping me safe now that I'm old and can't,’” said Ransom.

They are still in contact with each other and have become close friends.

“He's a wonderful friend, supporter, and a hero in my eyes,” said Ransom.

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Expeditionary Skills Rodeo

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