Local veteran in hospice care gets Honor Flight wish granted

Local military veteran Jerry Cole is in hospice, but will be headed to Washington D.C. on Saturday thanks to the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight program.

Cole has a combined 25 years of military service, six years with the United States Army and 19 years with the U.S. Air Force.  

At 80 years old, Cole will go with his eldest daughter, Leighanne Spears, as his escort. Even though Cole is in hospice, she says she's not worried.  

"Everyone does what they've all said they're going to do and it'll all work. I know it will," says Spears. 

Cole's eldest son, Jerry Junior, says all of his siblings are grateful Seasons Hospice worked so quickly worked Stars and Stripes to make sure Cole could make the trip.

"I guess everybody's heads are still spinning from, you know, actually like 'Wow! This is really happening.'" says Jerry Cole Jr. 

Cole says he wants to see everything. But, he knows this honor flight with more than 150 veterans is a quick sightseeing trip. While Cole and Spears will be at Mitchell International Airport around 4 am Saturday morning and arrive back at Mitchell around 9 pm that night, wife Sally Cole is happy. 

"He's doing pretty good now, and with the excitement, I think he'll be just fine," says Sally Cole. 

Cole's five children: Jerry Jr, Leighanne, Julie, Susan, and Scott are overjoyed for their father's big trip. In addition to Sally and Jerry Cole's five adult children, they have 11 grandchildren. Cole says he loves his big family, all the support he's gotten for his trip, and hopes every veteran is able to get this chance.

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