If you ever have to meet Tim Huyck at Dulles International Airport, he might be surprisingly easy to spot.
He is a little more than 6 feet tall, has dark hair and wears glasses. Oh, and he will be the one wearing full Boy Scout regalia directing a 20-piece band through patriotic music.
Huyck, a rising senior at Stone Bridge High School, has been involved in Scouting since he was a Cub Scout. He took up music and began playing tuba in sixth grade and still is a member of the Stone Bridge marching band. Once he set the goal of making Eagle Scout – the highest rank possible in the organization, he had to start thinking of a community service project as part of that requirement.
“To get your Eagle Scout rank, you are required to do a project,” Huyck said. “I had to think about doing a project long before I made the rank of Life Scout, which is the last one before Eagle Scout.”
In addition to school, Huyck is also involved in music at his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ashburn. He credits his mother, Lauren, with coming up with the idea of organizing a band to play music during the arrival of Honor Flights at Dulles.
“I have to admit it was my mom’s suggestion, and I took very well to the idea,” Huyck said. “The chance to combine music and Scouts was something that really struck a chord with me. I had thought about doing something food-drive related, but I wanted to do something unique, that wasn’t necessarily done before.”
The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit program started in Ohio about the time the World War II Memorial was completed in Washington, D.C. A physician who worked with veterans wanted to make sure veterans from World War II – most of whom were in their 80s at that time – got a chance to see their memorial before they died.
Now, there are dozens of flights into Dulles, Reagan National and Baltimore-Washington International airports every year, bringing veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and even the Gulf and Mideast wars. There are usually hundreds of greeters waiting when the veterans arrive, cheering them and waving flags as they walk or are pushed through. Adding a band brings the experience to an even higher level.
“It’s nice to have the music in the background, ” said Donna Colombo, Honor Flight Lead for Dulles. “It adds a level of emotion and amps up the feeling of emotion that the veterans have.
Huyck had accompanied his parents, Lauren and Benjamin, several times to welcome the veterans to Dulles. That experience likely planted the seed the seed that became his Eagle Scout project.
“A couple years before I started to think specifically about what I wanted to do for a project, I was able to come out and be a greeter for the veterans as they arrived,” Huyck said. “That helped significantly in my planning process.”
When a group of veterans coming from Milwaukee reached Dulles on June 2, Huyck had about 20 musicians playing marches and songs the veterans would recognize like “Fly Me to the Moon.”
“This is going to be the third and final time we will be doing this,” Huyck said. “I was thinking about trying to do another one in the fall, but with the marching band starting then, I realized that I would just have too much on my plate.”
Huyck relies on his connections from school and his church to round up musicians, and he also utilizes social media in the process.
“I put up posters around the school, and my dad actually helped me set up a website where folks I don’t actually know can sign up and be part of this,” he said.
When word came that the plane had touched down at Dulles, Huyck’s band played the Star-Spangled Banner so the greeters could salute the flag. That brought the patriotic atmosphere to a peak as the mobile hangars pulled up and the veterans began to emerge.
They’re not expecting 200 people here and getting hugs and kisses. I think the band just adds that much more emotion,” Colombo said. “It’s not only emotional for the veterans because they are already emotional as they are coming through the door, but it also adds to the emotions of the greeters.”
For more information about future Honor Flights and how to become a greeter at Dulles, visit heroeswelcomeiad.com.