You Say “Yes Sir”

If a WWII Veteran asks to pay for a student trip to Washington, D.C., the absolute response is “Yes Sir.”

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by Jeff Peterson, President

We have spent 10 years building a company that provides a safe, fun, and academically rich educational travel experience. We’ve taken thousands of 8th grade students to Washington, D.C. over those years. We have established protocol and procedures to ensure that our students have the best experience possible, and we don’t make hasty decisions. However, when a 95 year old Lieutenant Colonel from World War II asks for something, even though it’s not “business-as-usual”, you most definitely and always say “Yes Sir.”

On a Thursday last month, while I was visiting with some of our school partners in Omaha, Nebraska, and less than a week before our first D.C. trip of 2014, I received a unique request. A long time school partner, Jim Stanton from St. Francis in Billings, MT, wanted to know if we would be able to add one last traveller to his trip. Departure was in less than a week. The student he mentioned was a girl named Elise and could not afford to go. However, a local World War II Veteran named Jackson Kornegay Jr., who goes by “Jack”, requested we send her on his behalf. Without hesitation I told the group leader, “Yes Sir.”

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Lieutenant Colonel Jackson Kornegay Jr.

Of course logistically and financially this is not the “best” decision, but we have always stood by serving the communities we work in and supporting the educators that trust us with hundreds of students every year. Our motto at Global Travel Alliance is to “Build Bridges and Change Lives through Educational Travel.” We conduct our business to support our educational goals, and not vice versa. So when opportunities like this present themselves, they are easy decisions despite the cost or inconvenience, especially when it involves an individual that has sacrificed so much for this country. How many people alive can say they flew B-17’s over Germany, especially with almost a third of those planes never returning from their mission?

“Fortunately, I didn’t get shot down,” Jack says, “but I sure got shot up. That plane could take a lot of punishment and still come back in one piece.”

Jack’s caregiver, Tammy, told him about the Global Travel Alliance American Heritage Program that Billings area eighth graders were taking this Spring, primarily to Washington, D.C. but also to nearby sites such as Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Gettysburg. Tammy’s daughter is an eighth grader at one of the local middle schools that would be traveling in early March. Jack asked if any of the kids needed financial help for the trip.

“It’s been my experience,” he says, “that opportunities like that are often out of reach for some deserving kids, and I wanted to help someone.”

That “someone” was Elise.

“I am still amazed and happy,” she says, “that there are such caring people like Colonel Kornegay who would do this for someone like me. I know that I work hard in school, but I still can’t believe I got this award.”

I’m always humbled by the role we play in serving so many educators and students in this local area, and also throughout the entire country. Thank you for your past and present service Colonel Kornegay, and thank you all for trusting us to provide safe, educational, and life-changing trips to Washington, D.C. and beyond.

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Elise and her friends exploring the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.

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