BY JANET MANDELSTAM
The message Mark Kidd received in 2014 was clear: “You can’t not do this.” The message was from the head of Indy Honor Flight, and Kidd was being encouraged—“Basically told,” he says— to accompany aging veterans to Washington, D.C., and photograph their visits to the war memorials there.
Kidd and his camera got on the plane, and he has been volunteering to photograph the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans ever since.
“The experience has certainly gotten me out of myself,” says Kidd, whose day job is Bloomington FedEx delivery driver. “There’s no room for ego. This is about the vets, their honor, their legacy.”
Indy Honor Flight charters two planes and flies veterans free of charge from Indianapolis to the nation’s capital for the day. The project started with one plane, but, Kidd says, “There were World War II vets on a waiting list, and they were dying.” The groups return to a rousing welcome-home reception.
Kidd tells the story of one veteran on an Honor Flight trip. At the age of 90, wheezing and in a wheelchair, “He put his hand on my knee and said, ‘I’m just having the time of my life.’ That’s what it’s about,” Kidd says. The two stayed in touch when they returned to Indiana and remained close until the man died. “You meet them and fall in love, but it’s going to be a short relationship.”