Kansas National Guard gives dozens ride of a lifetime

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ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – A chance to ride in a Black Hawk helicopter, that is what the Kansas Army National Guard offered dozens of people on Wednesday.

“I am nervous,” says Dana Houser, Douglas High School counselor.

The ride-along was designed to help them understand what it is like to be in the National Guard, but who knew learning could be so intimidating?

“I was thinking it was going to be a whole lot bigger than this,” says Laura Kersting, after looking at the helicopter.

Especially nerve-racking because she is a mother. Kersting just hopes she doesn’t lose her breakfast on the flight.

“It will create a chain reaction,” she says.

But there’s no turning back…

“I am ready,” she says.

The only way to go is up.

The National Guard are often in the skies, responding to natural disasters, or helping fire departments by dropping water on fires. Wednesday, passengers got a small taste of what it’s like to be the men and women who keep our community safe.

Kersting was one of them and she knows her kids are going to give her a hard time.

“They think their mom is crazy anyways so it is just one more thing that they are going to shake their head at,” she explains.

In a way she needed this.

The view from 500 feet above ground wasn’t quite like the perspective she now has about what the military does every day.

She has two sons actively in service.

“I deal with it all day long.”

And she has two more who are firefighters.

They followed in her husband’s footsteps, Wichita Battalion Fire Chief Donald Kersting, who died, on this day, 13 years ago in his office.

She says, “I lean on God.”

Her appreciation, for those who are in the military or are first responders grew after the flight.

“It is not all fighting and bad things, there are a lot of good things,” she says.

If she’s learned anything from the flight she can share with her students, it’s to live each day with purpose.

“You never know if you will be able to ever do it again or not,” she says. “Good Lord, willing.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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