Afghanistan vet with cancer to take part in season-ending Honor Flight

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 3:43 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - North Country Honor Flight is sending off its last round of veterans for the year.

“North Country Honor Flight does not end at the runway, they become part of a family,” said the group’s Barrie Finnegan.

The final flight of the 2021 season departs this Saturday and will carry 28 veterans and their guardians to the Washington monuments made in their honor. But Finnegan says this flight will be a North Country first. “Our first Afghanistan-Iraq war veteran. It’s going to be quite sentimental when we take him,” he said.

We first introduced you to 36-year-old Wesley Black in May as part of our special report on the battle over burn pits.

“I made it, I made it through two deployments. I came home. I was supposed to be on easy street and then I got hit with the big ‘C’ word,” Black told us back in May. The medically retired staff sergeant is battling terminal stage 4 colon cancer. Black’s doctor says the cause is likely from the burn pits he worked near while in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military burned everything in those pits and Black breathed in the toxic smoke.

“It’s day-by-day, you know? Some days I feel okay, some days I feel kind of junky and don’t feel great at all. This week, for the most part, I’ve felt pretty good, so I’m hoping that continues to carry through the weekend,” Black said.

This week we caught up with Black ahead of his big flight. “I’m really excited to see the war memorials, the Washington monuments, stuff like that,” he said.

Another North Country first -- Black will have two guardians with him, his wife and 5-year-old son, Ronan. It will the family’s first trip to Washington.

“We’re really going to try to give him the best day possible, him and this family,” Finnegan said. A trip meant to honor the veteran’s services and sacrifice. “We want to take every veteran. They’ve all earned it, they all deserve it.”

And a day filled with memories for the Black family that they will never forget. “It’s a great honor that I’m able to do this,” Black said.

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