NewsCovering Colorado


Not your typical plane ride; Honor Flight 16 receives one last 'mail call'

One last 'mail call'
Posted at 6:52 PM, May 11, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — May is Military Appreciate Month and we are bringing you the stories of the first Southern Colorado All Women’s Honor Flight. The recent trip home for these 30 veterans was rather special. For some boarding Southwest Flight 401, it was just another flight. But for the veterans on this plane, it was the trip of a lifetime. And a place that offered them the utmost gratitude.

For the female veterans on this trip, things were highly emotional, many of them said they anticipated feeling a lot of emotions, but one thing they didn’t expect, was the chance to receive one last “mail call.” This was a huge tradition while they were in service and something they looked forward to.

Once the veterans were settled on the plane, they were handed stacks of letters from family, friends, and community members. Watching them read these letters was incredibly heartfelt.

"Awe, golly, that’s so sweet,” said Arleen LaBelle, a local veteran, as she read a letter written to her.

From World War Two and Vietnam, these are the trailblazers for women who serve today. But trails aren't always smooth.

“It was just all these casualties lined up, and you just didn’t know if you could save them or not but you worked so hard,” said Lynda Alexander, a Vietnam Era Veteran.

Lynda reflected on her time in Vietnam, as she worked to heal old wounds.

“It was just so difficult because they would look at me and say “Am I going to die? And I’d have to say, “No, you’re not going to die,” said Alexander.

From past memories to where they are now, their last "mail call" was full of gratitude.

“Know that we are safe thanks to you. You will do awesome I know it,” said Diane Dillinger, a local veteran, as she read a letter written to her.

“Isn’t that precious. Isn’t that adorable. That is just so dear. I love it, a second grader of all,” said Alexander.

And after years of wondering if their service mattered, for those on Honor Flight 16, the appreciation was now solidified in writing.

“It’s one of the most wonderful experiences that I’ve ever had in my whole life. To get all of the cards, the letters, the well wishes,” said Mary Littlejohn, a Vietnam Era Veteran.

Watching all of these women bond over their service was especially rewarding. They tell me this trip was exactly what they needed in life.

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