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Assembly 3154 Color Corps Honors Returning Veterans

The Color Corps of St. Catherine of Siena Assembly 3154 in Orange Park FL, went above and beyond this weekend. A core group of five Sir Knights, plus Terry Manz, the wife of Color Corps

Commander, Lou Manz headed from Orange Park to Jacksonville International Airport to welcome home our local veterans from the First Coast Honor Flight's fifth Honor Flight of their short existence.

  First Coast Honor Flight, a hub of the Honor Flight Network in northeast Florida, whose mission it is to celebrate America’s veterans by inviting them to share in a day of honor at our nation’s memorials in Washington D.C., has been a favorite of the Assembly since its Faithful Navigator, Sir Knight Tom Scherch, targeted it as the beneficiary of the net proceeds from the Knights of Columbus Holly Ball Spectacular.  The event, held just before Christmas 2023, raised $6,000.  A check was presented to Candace Mabry, Fundraising Director with First Coast Honor Flight, at a social meeting in February.

Faithful Navigator, Tom Scherch presents check to Candace Mabry of First Coast Honor Flight

This was the second “Operation Homecoming” that this Color Corps was attending, but this time, the flight was not due to arrive until 11:30 pm, already a burden for many in the Color Corps. But, once the party got settled in, they learned that the American Airlines flight had mechanical issues and would not arrive until nearly 1:00 am.

Color Corps in attendance were asked if they wanted to stay or call it a night.  Travis Logerwell, the youngest of the group, said, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  I’m all-in.”  His attitude reflected that of the rest of the group, who ranged in age from 47 to 81.  Among them were Johnny Thielen, Dan Wehby, Raul Tecson, Travis Logerwell, and Lou Manz, Color Corps Commander and his wife, Terry, who was there as a patriot and event photographer.

  While members of the team made themselves comfortable, several women struck up a conversation to see what these men in uniform were doing at the airport so late at night.  The women were stranded in the airport because their flight to Dallas had been cancelled.  The women were friends who had met while being a part of a Texas A&M Mothers’ Club and were returning to Dallas after a short vacation in St. Augustine.  When they learned about the arrival of the Honor Flight, they wanted to be a part of the celebration.  Members of First Coast Honor Flight provided them with signs and flags.

When the flight arrived at nearly 1:00 am Sunday, everyone waited in anticipation as the other passengers passed them by.  At about 1:30, the first of the 21 Honor Flight veterans began to emerge.  There was one World War II veteran, two veterans of the Korean War, and the rest from the War in Vietnam.  A few were obviously Knights of Columbus and were energized by our presence and the column of volunteers there to greet them.

On Sunday, Commander Manz received an email note from Candace Mabry, who was on the flight and had no idea that the Color Corps had planned to attend.  She quoted one of the veterans in her note:


“One of our veterans, as they’re getting off the bus for the final time said, ‘I have to hand it to you all, the day was more than I could’ve imagined. We had so many wonderful surprises and experiences.  But you topped it off when I saw my Fourth Degree [Knights of Columbus] at our welcome home at 1:30 in the morning.’”


Later on Sunday, Manz received another email, this time from Sir Knight Frank Constantino, Color Corps Commander of Corpus Christi Assembly in Flagler Beach, who was on the flight with another veteran. It read:


“Worthy Color Corps Commander Lou,

When SK [Sir Knight] Ken Wall and I landed in Jacksonville last night on our return from our Honor Flight, we were totally blown away to see you and your Color Corps waiting for us at 01:30 AM!

In all my 6 years of being a Color Corps Commander, I never answered a call-out at that time of the night! You and your men went way beyond the call of duty, and we can't thank you enough. Thank You for your Color Corps commitment and your generous donation of time.”

Manz was flattered by Frank’s gracious note, but adds, “The principle of the Fourth Degree of our Order is ‘Patriotism.’  It is my hope that more Color Corps from the District will join us to celebrate these veterans, who gave so much and deserve so much more.”

Photographs courtesy of Terry Manz.


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