Columbus Academy students sends 25 veterans on Honor Flight, gives veteran special welcome

Students at Columbus Academy raised $12,500 dollars to send 25 veterans to Washington D.C. (WSYX/WTTE)

A special moment Friday afternoon served as a welcome home for veteran Jerry Pentz.

It was a moment decades in the making.

"It is just great finally getting recognized," said Pentz, who was born and raised in Columbus.

In the 1970s, he told ABC6/FOX28 that he became a Marine and served in Vietnam.

"When I came home from Vietnam, there was no welcome," he said, "I mean of course your family welcomed you, but I had kids I went to school with didn't want nothing to do with me."

But that changed recently, when a high school student came into the picture.

"I really wanted to do something for such a deserving group of people," said Annalise Grammel, a junior at the Columbus Academy.

Grammel was looking for a service opportunity through her school, when she came across Honor Flight Columbus.

The group sends veterans to Washington D.C. to see war monuments in their honor.

"I really wanted to do something more for the veterans on the wait list," said Grammel.

So, the 16-year-old organized a 5K this summer.

"I raised $12,500 dollars, so enough to send 25 veterans to D.C.," she said.

One of those veterans was Pentz.

"We finally made it home," he said, "it meant that we finally got our due."

ABC6/FOX28 was there as he shared his story to 7th and 8th graders, who had sent him letters previously.

"I got almost 200 letters, yeah, and I mean I read every one of them, every one of them," said Pentz.

It was also a chance to reunite, and say thank you to the high school student who sponsored his flight.

"I think the United States is going to be okay, I really do," he said.

Grammel is hoping to do a 5K again next year, to honor and help even more veterans.

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