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Jefferson Awards: York County man honors veterans with the trip of a lifetime

Duane Swartz is “Multiplying Good” by taking veterans on an incredible Honor Bus trip to Washington, D.C.

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — There's a fleet of buses that leave from Northeastern High School every year, carrying hundreds of veterans and students towards a life-changing experience in Washington, DC.

The Honor Bus trip, an annual event, is thanks to the hard work and dedication of teacher and organizer Duane Swartz.

"The idea for our bus...came from a field trip," Swartz explained. 

"I had a bus driver back in the spring of 2010. We were going to Washington, and I'm sitting up behind the driver and he says, 'oh, you might be interested in this.' And that's how it started."

The trips, which began in 2011, take veterans from all over the area on a day-long adventure to see the World War II, Vietnam and Korean War memorials.

"These World War II vets are getting well up into years, so they need to have this opportunity, and most of them aren't going to drive themselves," Swartz said. They don't have family members that are going to take them. So the project is kind of like, fell into my lap."

Ten years later, the Honor Bus trips are still rolling along. 

Swartz said while they require a ton of time and planning, he has incredible volunteers and students who make the day possible. All the while, the memory of his father still urges him on too.

"I always remember, you know, my father never talked about his service…it just became motivation, knowing that, you know, there's a lot of vets who, in some way, shape or form are still carrying a lot of those scars from their service," Swartz noted.

"We want them to know that we haven't forgotten them. We want to give them this day of opportunity to spend...with their fellow vets."

Swartz's inspiring actions are rippling out to his entire community, including former student Megan Sweitzer, who says the Honor Bus trips inspired her to join the Army National Guard.

"The way that he shows the appreciation and the passion that he has for it - it comes out without him even trying...seeing that...that's what that's what I want to be like," Sweitzer said.

A labor of love, Swartz says the Honor Bus planning is well underway for this spring, ready to welcome all those who served.

"You know, this is not just a bus trip. Yeah, we get on a bus, we go somewhere, we visit, we get back home, but...it's an experience, you know, and I want it to be honoring to their service...and to be worthwhile of their time."

All over our area, there are people who are not just doing good, but Multiplying Good.

Every year, we honor them with the Jefferson Awards - a nationwide foundation that celebrates amazing acts of public service. This year is FOX43's first season of being a Jefferson Awards Media Partner.

You can nominate someone for a Jefferson Award by clicking here.

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