PIPESTONE, M.N. (KELO) — A 94 year old Pipestone man’s trip on Midwest Honor Flight was tragically cut short this past week. Army Veteran Melvin Brockberg got sick when he got off the plane near our nation’s capital and he couldn’t recover. The Korean War Vet died with his family by his side last Thursday morning in Virginia. Brockberg’s sons say they don’t regret their dad taking the flight because it was one final tour with honor he had been waiting for, for years.
“He was happy, healthy, all smiles ear to ear,” Gary Brockberg said.
Sitting around a table filled with memories of their dad, Gary and David Brockberg can’t help but think about how excited Army Corporal and Korean War Veteran Melvin Brockberg was to be on Mission 5 of the Midwest Honor Flight.
“Sometimes you’d almost get to the point, come on dad, enough is enough. Let’s get on with it but he would not stop,” Gary said.
The 94-year-old retired farmer, who lost his wife Dorothy one year ago, had been waiting three years for the opportunity. David, his guardian for the trip, says he was raring to go on the morning of September 24 but things changed when they arrived in Virginia.
“In the terminal about 50 feet and then it went bad there,” David said.
Melvin recovered and made it to Arlington National Cemetery but then, got sick again. He would be taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he later died on Thursday morning.
“Very shocking. Totally unexpected,” Gary said.
David and Gary, who flew out immediately, say doctors don’t know exactly what happened, but that Melvin was battling respiratory issues.
Matt Holsen: Do you regret putting him on this flight?
Gary: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I wouldn’t change anything. I would change the outcome but I would never change him going.
“He may have not seen the sights out there but he had the anticipation of going out there. He had talked about it to everybody for months and months in advance. He was looking forward to it immensely,” Gary said.
During their time of mourning, Melvin’s sons are focusing on gratitude.
“Honor Flight guys were there. Fantastic. They stayed with me all the time, day and night,” David said.
An honor flight volunteer even took the men to the memorials their father missed including the Korean War Memorial.
Matt Holsen: You’re there without him. What was that like?
Gary: Kind of hard to swallow but I look at it, I’m doing it in his honor. It was surreal.
Matt Holsen: You wish he would have been able to see it?
Gary: I wish he could but he saw it through me.
Melvin will be deeply missed but forever remembered. He leaves behind four children, eight grandchildren and more.
“It really hurts that way. I’ll say. Every Sunday, that was kind of our go out and check the crop day. He was a farmer. He liked to get out. He’s left a hole in my heart now,” David said.
After spending a few days in Virginia, the family made their way back home to Pipestone. An escort made up of troopers, Midwest Honor Flight volunteers and patriot riders met the group in Holland, MN, and brought them to the funeral home.
“He was willing to help anybody and I think everybody turned around and gave him help back for everything that he did,” David said.
Melvin’s funeral took place this Tuesday. He was buried wearing his Midwest Honor Flight bracelet.
“That was the last thing he saw in his life and I wanted him to be buried with his bracelet. It was an honor to him. Honor to me,” Gary said.
“He lived a long, long life. Healthy life, so how much more do you want,” Gary said.
A life and service to our country, honored.