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Lawyer expertise and experience lift Honor Flight to new heights

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Imagine Indiana without the city of Fort Wayne – a city of more than 200,000 people – gone.

Now image that every person in both Evansville and Gary is a wounded survivor of war. Another 200,000 people, this time injured in some way due to combat.

honorflight-15col.jpg Attorney Bob Kistler, right, helped check in participants and companions at the Fort Wayne International Airport before the Oct. 23 Honor Flight (IL Photo/Steve Linsenmayer)

The total population of these cities is equivalent to the number of U.S. casualties in World War II. No Americans before or since have a real understanding of the impact that war had on our country.

Lloyd Urbine understands. At 96, Urbine remembers quite a bit about his service during that war, good, bad and sad. On his recent trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the World War II Memorial, the wall of more than 4,000 gold stars impressed him; each star represents 100 Americans who were killed or wounded in that war.

“It was important to me, being in the war and my experiences,” he said. “It was a terrible tragedy we had because it brought about so much death and destruction. I got to associate with lots of people during the war, and I know what death and destruction look like.”

Urbine’s trip was courtesy of Honor Flight, a national organization whose mission is to transport America’s veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the monument that commemorates their service, thus honoring and thanking them for that service. Founded in 2005 by a veteran pilot who realized many elderly vets, especially those from World War II, were dying without seeing their national monument, Honor Flight now has hubs across the country, including three in Indiana. Priority is given to World War II, Korean War and terminally ill veterans.

“This year is the first year we’ll have done three flights,” said Bob Myer, volunteer president of Honor Flight Northeast Indiana in Fort Wayne. “The main reason we added a flight is because we have an application file that keeps growing. We hoped that we were finished with our World War II vets and that we could move on to the Korean War, but right now we’ve got over 200 applications between World War II and Korean War. We’re trying to work those down because most of the World War II vets are in their 90s now.”

Right place, right time

honorflight2-15col.jpg Navy veteran Ben Gibson of Fort Wayne (IL Photo/Steve Linsenmayer)

Law brings people together but not often for positive reasons. Fortunately for Bob Kistler, an associate at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP in Fort Wayne, the law and a fellow lawyer forged his connection to Honor Flight.

“A partner in my group knew I had experience filing with the IRS for tax-exempt organizations,” Kistler explained. “[They] needed assistance with getting Honor Flight Northeast Indiana hub recognized by the IRS under 501(c)3. Initially it was a pro bono project to assist with them registering with the IRS as a not-for-profit. Once the project was over [the founder] was very persuasive in asking me to join the board. I was on the board for two years. Since I left the board I continued to be involved pro bono as they need or just as a volunteer.”

Kistler attributes his involvement in Honor Flight to being in the right place at the right time, yet much of his involvement stems from his own military experience and others’ knowledge of it. His position as chair of the Indiana State Bar Association’s Military & Veterans Affairs Committee as well as his involvement in Indiana’s Lawyers for Soldiers program advertised his interest in and service to vets.

“I was in the Army over 10 years – long before I became a lawyer,” he said. “One of the things I enjoyed most about military service was the soldiers. It is a very different experience than most people have about where they work and who they work with. It makes me particularly aware of veterans’ issues.”

Preparing for take off

Urbine recalls the send-off he and other vets received Oct. 23, the day of their Honor Flight. He was surprised so many people got up so early – the group gathered at 6 a.m. – to bid them bon voyage.

“I was embarrassed by how much attention we got,” he said. “We didn’t have to do anything except go along on this wonderful trip. These kids had sent all these letters, and some of them were pretty well written, a whole lot of notes and pictures saying thank you for your service. Then they had something, and it was a blanket from the high school. A couple of girls worked on the thing so I’ll have to send them a personal thank you.”

As an Honor Flight honoree, Urbine is unaware of the time and orchestration necessary to plan and present such a trip. With last month’s government shutdown, the trip was tentative, but the group received permission to visit the World War II and Korean memorials from the U.S. National Park Service. The day’s itinerary generally includes the war memorials, including the Vietnam Wall, Iwo Jima, Arlington Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Women’s Memorial, because the trip generally has women vets as well as men.

Kistler has participated as both guardian and trip leader on a few occasions and can attest to the “marathon” of planning, training and oversight required to transport 150 people more than 1,000 miles roundtrip and guide them through a city-wide tour in a day’s time. When half of those people are elderly and require wheelchairs, walkers or other specialized health equipment to get around, careful planning becomes even more important.

The trick, according to Kistler, is to plan so well that the day goes off without a hitch and the vets need do nothing but enjoy themselves. From the 6 a.m. welcome wagon to the hot breakfast prepared and served by the Indiana Air National Guard to the bands playing as the group disembarks at Reagan National Airport to the disposable cameras and other perks the vets receive through the course of the day, this marathon is all about them.

“They spend a day with someone who is dedicated to thanking them for their service and will go out of their way to provide them with unique experiences and takeaways from the trip,” he said. “You get a chance to meet someone who really is a hero.”

Salute them one and all

There is a certain appeal to the Honor Flight concept that resonates with many who seek volunteer opportunities at the organization. The Northeast Indiana hub has hundreds of volunteer applications, but can’t offer service positions to everyone.

“It is one example of one of the good things going on,” Kistler said. “I appreciate not just veterans but all the people who are doing things to help and honor them.”

The American Legion, VFW, AMVETS and Disabled American Veterans are larger organizations that assist vets on many levels in many ways, while smaller local organizations also seek volunteer assistance.

“Veterans that have served are experiencing a lot of issues unique to every one of them,” he said. “You can’t really see what’s happened to them but it’s incredibly important to make them aware of how much we value their service.”•

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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