At least 100 Vets participate in Honor Flight Dayton; 1 went in August before passing away

DAYTON — Two weeks before his death, a Miami Valley veteran got the “thank you” of a lifetime.

>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Veterans welcomed home as Honor Flight Dayton returns to skies after 2 years

On Saturday, veterans from across the Miami Valley got that same thank you during the final Honor Flight Dayton of 2022.

More than 100 veterans spent the day in Washington D.C. touring the National Memorials that honor those who serve our country.

This was the second Honor Flight since before the pandemic, with the first one being in August.

During the last trip, News Center 7′s Brandon Lewis spoke with Jim Risner, a Vietnam War veteran, who was emotional and grateful for the experience.

“I probably won’t be able to sleep for days,” Risner said. “It’ll be on my mind for a long time, that’s for sure.”

About two weeks after the Honor Flight, Risner’s  family reached out to News Center 7 saying the 74-year-old passed away.

“He had a massive heart attack shortly after that on September 13th, and that was really hard,” said Jennifer Landess, Risner’s step daughter-in-law.

Risner was a man his family said was loving, kind and would give you the shirt off his back.


His family said his care for others is what got him into military service to begin with. They said he was not drafted, rather he volunteered to serve in the Vietnam War after two of his friends were killed in action.

“It absolutely set something off in Jim, it angered him and it hurt him,” Landess said.

Landess says Risner felt he needed to go fight, and he did.

Risner was in Vietnam from 1967 to 1970 as a jet engine mechanic in the U.S. Air Force.

“He loved his country and he loved everything about serving,” Landess said.

Vietnam War veterans did not get a hero’s welcome when they came back. It wasn’t until the Honor Flight trip, more than 50 years after Risner returned from Vietnam, that he got a true welcome home.

“People stopped in the restaurant at the airport, they left their plates of food just to come out and applaud them, total strangers,” Landess said.

His family said the trip moved him and showed that his sacrifices mattered. While they’re heartbroken he’s gone, they’re glad he had this opportunity to feel appreciated.

“Huge comfort to know he got to go, he got to be a part of that, he got to have that love and respect from the rest of the world that he did not have at the time,” Landess said.

Risner’s family said he’s buried at the Dayton National Cemetery in his Honor Flight shirt.

They said he talked about Honor Flight every day until he passed away.

Organizers said the next honor flight is scheduled for sometime next April.

For more information, you can visit the Honor Flight Dayton Facebook page.

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