Soike takes a game off to honor veterans

Nov. 2, 2010

Football is life in some circles, but a promise is forever everywhere else.

So that means Germantown football coach Phil Datka's long-time friend and offensive line coach Gary Soike won't be in the booth Saturday at 3 p.m. when the Warhawks take on Marquette in a level 3 state playoff game.

But like Soike himself likes to note: a promise is a promise.

This particular promise will take him all the way to Washington D.C. where he will be among the guardians escorting World War II veterans around their monument on the Mall in the capital as part of the Honor Flights program.

Soike is doing this for a couple of very good reasons. One is to honor Hugh Roberts, who was among the Marines who landed on Iwo Jima as well as the father of his wife, Germantown statistician Roberta Soike. The second is to remember his older brother, Clyde, who was in the Navy during the war.

"They both passed away awhile back," Soike said, "and I really wanted to honor their memory. I've talked to other people who have done this and they say it's the most emotional thing that you'll ever do."

Soike will be among 200 veterans and guardians boarding a 747 at Mitchell Field at 5 a.m. Saturday. They'll land in D.C. later that morning, and make the trip to the World War II monument where they'll tour the grounds. Honor Flights was started a few years ago to give aging veterans a chance to revisit their memories one more time before they pass away.

Thousands of them are lost every week.

Everyone will return on the same flight, at 9:30 p.m. the same day.

"I feel honored to be able to do this," said Soike, who was part of the National Guard when he was younger. "I didn't know that we'd make it this far (in the state playoffs). I don't want to miss it (the game), but I made this commitment and it is important that I keep it."

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