CJH students surprise nurse’s father with Veterans Day cards for honor flight

An image of a handmade card that says "Thank you Mr. Kohler U.S.N." on the front and thank yous scattered within with the heading "From C.J. Hooker Middle School, Goshen, NY."

C.J Hooker Middle School students surprised their nurse’s father, a U.S. Navy Korean War Veteran, with a batch of handmade cards and heartfelt notes this Veterans Day.

“Thank you for serving our country and protecting us,” wrote one 7th grade student, Julianna Loftus.

“Thank you for your bravery and service,” wrote another 7th grader, Brooke Florio. “Thank you for helping to protect us.”

School Nurse Dawn Pawliczak’s father, Frederick Kohler, read the cards while on a surprise honor flight to Washington, D.C.

“My father read each and every one of the letters and cards, and was so touched by the kind, sincere sentiments of the students,” said Pawliczak. 

An image of a woman and a U.S. Navy Korean War veteran standing in front of the National Monument and a fountain.

Kohler’s flight was sponsored by Hudson Valley Honor Flight, local hub of the nonprofit National Honor Flight Network – an organization that honors American veterans for their sacrifices by transporting them to the nation’s capital to visit their memorials at no cost to them.

The Navy veteran served on the admiral’s staff aboard the USS Leyte, one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during and shortly after World War II. He also served aboard the USS Tarawa, an amphibious assault ship used from 1976 through 2009.

“What an amazing group of kids,” Kohler said. “I will never forget this. These are my treasures.”

Teenagers and an adult hold signs and a photograph of a U.S. Navy veteran at an airport. The signs say "Welcome Home Frederick Kohler U.S. Navy-Korean War Vet" and "Welcome Home Pop Pop."

Pawliczak’s son, GHS junior Ethan Pawliczak went to the airport to greet his grandfather with large handmade signs when he returned from the flight. 

“I wanted to be there to support all of the veterans, especially my grandfather, Fred Kohler, who fought for our country and gave so much so we can enjoy our freedoms and liberties,” Ethan said. “They deserve our thanks, our support, and our respect.”

Ethan’s best friend Patrick Cahill joined him to welcome back the veterans.

“It’s important to remember veterans, all they did for our country and what they were willing to sacrifice,” said Patrick. “It’s important to give them the recognition they deserve.”