EARL MORSE, 54
Earl Morse was a physician's assistant at a VA clinic when he asked a few WWII-era patients if they'd been to the memorial in Washington, D.C., that had opened that spring of '04. "None had, and they weren't going to—they didn't have the means," Morse says. "It broke my heart."
So Morse, a retired Air Force captain and private pilot, decided to take them there. Recruiting volunteer pilots and raising funds to rent small planes, he flew 12 vets in May '05. It would be the first of 100 flights Morse would make; his efforts vastly expanded with help from Jeff Miller, 58, a businessman who started raising funds to charter commercial flights. Joining forces, the two formed Honor Flight Network (honor flight.org), which has flown more than 100,000 vets to the site.
Last fall Charlie Sens, 89, of Marion, Ohio, cried as he laid eyes on the monument's granite pillars. "Earl did this for the lowest of the low infantrymen," says Sens, who won a Purple Heart fighting in Europe and Africa. "He did it for people like me."
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