Our 2023 Honor Flight veterans have been selected.
Mr. Randall Logsdon and Mr. Buddy Rosenberger both served during Vietnam and will be on the September 2023 flight. Learn more about them HERE
2022 Honor Flight veterans Gary Kohtala and Lisa Puckett, photos by Tim Webb
As a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, Nolin RECC sponsors two local veterans on the Touchstone Energy Honor Flight each year. The Honor Flight gives veterans an all-expense-paid trip to Washington D.C. for a day. The veterans see their war memorials and other sites and are treated to a welcome home honoring them for the heroes they are. Veterans wishing to be considered for an Honor Flights should get their name on the waiting list at www.honorflightky.org.
Honor Flight 2022
By: Sarah Fellows
For the first time since 2019, the Touchstone Energy Honor Flight took off from Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, KY on September 17th. A crowd gathered early on that Saturday morning to see the 68 veterans off on their packed day in Washington, D.C. Two of the veterans on board were from Hardin County and sponsored by Nolin RECC: Gary Kohtala and Lisa Puckett.
Gary Kohtala enlisted in the Army when he was 17 years old through a delayed entry program. He began active duty on his 18th birthday in 1972 and remembers receiving his high school diploma in his P.O. Box in Vietnam while deployed there. Already a skilled ham radio operator, Kohtala served as a morse code interceptor during combat missions with an aviation company. His mission included doing intercept, communication jamming and direction finding of enemy targets which provided essential support for operations.
One memory that stands out to Kohtala happened on the day of the cease fire in Vietnam. Ten minutes before the official cease fire was set to begin, his company was surrounded by sirens and booms. Expecting an attack, personnel were sent to the perimeter, but no attack came. He said the enemy had decided to give them a “send off.”
Kohtala retired from the Army as a Sergeant First Class, SFC / E7 in 1994. He moved into government contract work and eventually on to a job with Boeing. Though retired from official military service, he still serves his country using his passion for ham radio working with agencies such as FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security providing backup communications on government frequencies.
Like Kohtala, Lisa Puckett started her service at the young age of 18. She joined the Air Force right out of high school and was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base. She spent 4 years working in military law enforcement and achieved the rank of Senior Airman. She recalls being one of the first women to serve in the military police on March Air Force Base in Riverside, CA where she spent most of her military service.
After she became pregnant with her first son, she left the Air Force and began working at the United States Bullion Depository on Fort Knox. She spent her 31 years there as a police officer working for the Unites States Treasury as a U.S. Mint Police Officer. Her duties included protecting the 50 acres the Treasury owns and operates including the famous “gold vault.”
Lisa retired as a Sergeant with the U.S. Mint Police. She then worked from June 2016 to April of 2022 at the Hardin Count Detention Center in booking and the female SAP program.
Both Kohtala and Puckett come from families with a long history of military service and both continued to serve their country even after leaving their military duties. Both also see this dedication to their country as just a normal part of who they are. Kohtala explains that “life is about service and giving something back” and both he and Puckett have lived in a way that reflects this.
The Touchstone Energy Honor Flight gave these two veterans, and their fellow travelers, a chance to see how truly extraordinary this dedication is. From their morning send off in Kentucky to the welcome in Washington D.C., police escorts around the capital, visits to the memorials and participation at the Tomb of the Unknowns to the enormous crowd that welcomed them back that evening, the day was designed to help them all understand how much they are valued.
Puckett received an additional honor when she was inducted into the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. “Words can’t describe the wonder of the Honor Flight,” says Puckett.
For Gary Kohtala and Lisa Puckett, and all those who went on September’s flight, it was a day to remember and an honor much deserved.