In his PJTV report on Walt Fricke, Bill Whittle invites viewers to take a ride with volunteers from the Veterans Airlift Command. Fricke founded the VAC; the VAC provides free air transportation to wounded warriors, veterans and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots. Whittle is a brilliant reporter; he gets right to the heart of VAC’s mission in this excellent report.
Fricke served as a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam until he was severely injured in action working on his day off. He is a retired GMAC executive who founded VAC in his retirement. He obviously thought long and hard about his return and recuperation in the context of the wars in which we are still engaged.
Whittle followed up his report on the VAC with a second PJTV report that he calls “A tale of two Americas.” Here he retraces the story of the VAC, this time broadening the focus before homing in on Mike Schlitz on board one of the VAC flights.
Whittle makes brilliantly clear that Mike has given something beyond the last full measure of devotion. In his closing remarks, Whittle chokes up several times while commenting on the significance of the story he has to tell in his report. It’s powerful stuff.
Taken together, these videos run a total of roughly 20 minutes. Please take the time when you can to view them in their entirety. They give us something, to borrow Robert Frost’s formulation, to stay our minds on and be staid.
In the second of these two videos (above), Walt Fricke makes a fleeting reference to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Minneapolis, located a few miles from where I live. Is it possible, I wondered, that VAC is based in the Twin Cities? It turns out that Fricke is a Minnesota resident and that VAC’s offices are in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
Calling Fricke this morning, I caught up with him in the Finger Lakes region of northern New York. Fricke mentioned that the VAC is busy; last month it flew 150 missions for wounded warriors.
Among other things, we also talked about fundraising issues. He said that he had started the VAC with a $1,000,000 contribution of his own funds, but that he needed support to make the VAC self-sustaining. Last year was the first it broke even with the help of contributions. Please consider contributing here.
I made a date to get together with Fricke when he returns to town at the end of next week. I’ll be reporting a bit more on Fricke and his mission at that time.
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