KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It took convincing from students and staff at Coker Creek Elementary but their school security officer, who is also a veteran of the war in Vietnam, finally agreed to take an HonorAir Knoxville flight to Washington, D.C.

“I’m overwhelmed, I’m glad I got to do it…they finally persuaded me,” said Mr. Presley during an interview a few steps away from the Vietnam Memorial Wall on April 10th. The former Army artillery man had been reluctant to revisit a wall that holds the names of so many friends and fellow soldiers killed battle.

“I’ve spent the last 50 years trying to forget about things and I still have a big problem with it,” said Mr. Presley. 

But thanks to a donation drive 10News highlighted by students and staff at Coker Creek, they offered Mr. Presley the opportunity to travel on HonorAir Flight #28 to Washington.  The all-expenses paid trip escorted 130 veterans from Vietnam, Korea, and World War II on a whirlwind round trip. 

67-year-old Harvey Presley says his decision to finally go, turned out to be a good one.

“One of the highlights of my life,” Mr. Presley said with a smile.

Harvey Presley
Kristi Sisson

Teacher Kristi Sisson was instrumental in the effort to coax Mr. Presley into making the trip and helping organize the school-led effort to fund his flight.  Ms. Sisson was also among the group from Coker Creek who helped welcome Mr. Presley home from his journey and heard this from him not long after he stepped of the plane.

"The trip with HonorAir was the best day of my life!  I was hesitant on going on the flight for several reasons. I'm not a huge fan of flying.  And I wasn't sure what it would be like, how I'd react being at The Wall. But it was the best day!  I'm so glad I went!"

Coker Creek Students and Staff
Kristi Sisson