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Dr. Diering Honors Veterans with Service

Dr. Diering Honors Veterans with Service

A retired rocket scientist. A man who met U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur. A man who saw the first hydrogen bomb detonate at Bikini Atoll. A man who was part of the 10th Mountain Division Ski Patrol in the Italian Alps. Who are these interesting men? They are all veterans whom CCMH Emergency Department Physician Scott Diering recently met as he participated in what he called an experience of a lifetime—Rocky Mountain Honor Flight.

The Honor Flight Network is a national nonprofit that carries veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit monuments and memorials built to commemorate their service. The network has transported more than 81,000 veterans since it began in 2005. The Rocky Mountain Honor Flight, established in 2007, is one of the more than 100 “hubs” in the network.

Dr. Scott DieringDr. Diering learned of the group while strolling through a community fair in Denver two years prior. “I asked what the group was about, and when the attendant at the booth told me what Rocky Mountain Honor Flight was doing, I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” he said. He completed an application to become a medical director for one of the trips.

As medical director, Dr. Diering was responsible for the oxygen and the overall health of 31 veterans, whose ages ranged from 83-96 years old. In addition, 22 guardians made the trip helped the veterans get around D.C. safely.

While in D.C., the group visited:

  • Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknowns
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
  • Seabees of the United States Navy Memorial
  • U.S. Air Force Memorial
  • U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
  • U.S. Navy Memorial with a special presentation at the Lone Sailor Statue
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • and the World War II Memorial

The group was easy to distinguish from other tourists—the guardians were in blue, while the veterans were in red. “People would walk up to the veterans and shake their hands and thank them for their service to our country,” Dr. Diering said. “And the veterans were so humble about it—many of them would say, ‘I only did what anyone else would do.’”

According to the Rocky Mountain Honor Flight’s website, special attention is given to the World War II memorial. Dedicated in 2004, the memorial was built to honor 16 million Americans during World War II; however, it is primarily inaccessible to most veterans because of their age, health, and financial status, among others. It is estimated that less than 1.2 million are alive today.

To participate, members must complete applications. Veterans who are selected are flown on a “first-come, first-served basis” with top priority given to World War II veterans and those with terminal illness—second priority is to Korean War veterans and then Vietnam War veterans. Dr. Diering has submitted an application to participate again.

“I felt very privileged to take care of these gentlemen on this trip,” he said. “After all that they have done for this country, I felt like it was the least I could do to show my appreciation for their sacrifice.”