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Hometown Hero is already a hero to many

Col. Paul Fleenor, U.S. Army, retired, is January’s Darrell Waltrip Automotive’s Hometown Hero.

Several years ago Fleenor was inspired to organize the first Honor Flight in Middle Tennessee and the second in the state after watching a brief news story on the subject.

Honor Flight was founded in 2005 by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Air Force Captain to get as many World War II veterans to Washington D.C., to see the World War II Memorial on the National Mall. The trip is free to veterans.

“I am very humbled,” Fleenor said. “There were too many other people involved in this project to take all this credit. I just happened to be the one to get this off the ground.”

Fleenor enlisted the help of several ambitious volunteers to help him raise the $60,000 needed to get 100 aging veterans safely to the nation’s capital and home in one day.

Fleenor worked tirelessly for months developing the program, setting up communications and raising money, said Earl Hensel, who nominated the colonel for the award.

“He called the Middle Tennessee program Honor Flight Volunteers, and was instrumental in taking two flights to Washington D.C.,” Hensel said. “At first I wasn’t sure we could collect the $60,000 needed to rent an airliner for a day to take the veterans and volunteers to Washington D.C., and back the same day, but with Paul’s drive and determination, we pulled it off. To see the look on the veteran’s faces as the toured ‘their monument’ and listening to their own stories made all our efforts worthwhile.”

“After going to Washington and seeing the memorial, a lot of people just don’t realize the significance of what we accomplished in World War II,” Fleenor said. “I was very proud to visit the WWII Memorial with these veterans.”

As part of Fleenor’s Hometown Hero award, he received a sculptured eagle and a $500 donation to the Tennessee Fisher House in Murfreesboro, currently under construction, and to the charity of his choice. Fisher House supports America’s military men and women in their time of need.

“I am honored to present this award to you,” said Darrell Waltrip, a partner in the Darrell Waltrip Automotive Group, the sponsor of the monthly award. “And I thank you for your service to our country.”

Posted on: 2/13/2013

 
 

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