Due to the diligent work of his daughter Patricia Hatcher and her family, Kenneth Lancaster, 86, a Korean War veteran, long time resident of Mariposa, and former manager of Yosemite Bank, will take part in the Central Valley Flight of Honor...maybe.
Every year a plane is chartered out of Fresno by a non-profit organization called the Honor Flight Network which transports veterans (top priority given to seniors or terminally ill veterans) to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect in front of their memorials.
After spending four years serving in United States Navy, half of the time on the USS Charra, one of the largest ammo ships afloat 16 miles off the Korean coast, Lancaster, vowed to never fly again. Hatcher spent a lifetime encouraging her parents to travel with no luck, until she filled out a form with HFN and word came back that he was selected. She approached her father and to her great surprise he said, “I would love to go,” but there was a catch, he wanted a family member to be his chaperone.
Financially, this was not an option for Hatcher (according to Hatcher, chaperones go through 3 days of training in Fresno and pay their way and lodging in D.C.) so Patricia’s son, Brandon, started a GoFundMe page and contacted multiple media outlets sharing his mom’s and grandfather’s story.
“This is so humbling for me, I never ask for help, but this is my only shot to make a once in a lifetime experience happen for my dad - I am so proud of him, he is a man of integrity, honesty and has a big heart- I want to be able to give back to him.”
Lancaster and his wife Eveleen, who can not make the trip due to health issues, have never been apart since his years of service but she is elated that he has this opportunity and hopes he gets the chance.
"I am thrilled to death he has this chance but I know he would not be comfortable enough with an assigned chaperone, and would probably back out."
Lancaster is proud of daughter and grandson for being so relentless and looks forward to the journey. The highlights of the trip for Lancaster are the Changing of the Guards, visiting the memorials, walking alongside other veterans, and simply sharing the trip with Hatcher.
“I loved serving my country, and will be honored to walk beside the other veterans on this trip, who also deserve just as much recognition.”
In regards to his visit to the Korean War Memorial, he will look for the names of people he served with.
“It will most likely be bittersweet,” said Lancaster but Hatcher believes it will bring him some sense of closure.
Details: https://www.gofundme.com/ezc6d-help-a-korean-war-veteran or contact Patricia Hatcher at (559) 706-0317.