Topeka veteran welcomed home from honor flight

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - It's been 57 years since Dr. Norman Thoms got the call.

"I got drafted in the spring of 1962 when I was a resident in surgery in Detroit at Wayne State University Medical School,” Thoms said.

Thoms served 2 years active duty as an Army doctor, serving stateside and in Panama.

This past weekend, he joined 40 other veterans on an honor flight to the nation's capital, making stops along the way to remember those who have served alongside them.

His daughter, Gael Ostenson, served as his guardian for the trip.

"Seeing the living memorial in these veterans, and the most impactful was seeing the outpouring of respect and gratitude from the public,” Ostenson said.

The final highlight was their welcome home in Wichita.

"Here was thousands of people, leaving a space for us to walk down, and they were clapping and cheering,” Thoms said. "So that was really a very emotional time, to be received by such a large number of people.”

"It's just so emotional to see these veterans getting that love and respect and gratitude from the public, and just knowing that a lot of them never got it the first time they came home,” Ostenson added.

"It's just a memorable experience that I'll never forget, and an exclamation mark career,” Thoms said.

After his time in the Army, Dr. Thoms completed his medical education and moved to Topeka where he was instrumental in developing a heart surgery unit. He served there as a thoracic surgeon until 2005.