Hometown Heroes: Dana Deem & Johnny Johnston

By Terry Kovarik | terry.kovarik@wearegreenbay.com

Published 10/25 2013 06:32PM

Updated 12/20 2013 07:17PM

GREEN BAY, WI. (WFRV) Dana Deem, his family and Johnny Johnston, pilot of their corporate jet, are die-hard Cleveland Browns fans and recently followed the team to Lambeau Field. But Deem, the President of Window World Incorporated, and Johnston are equally passionate about helping wounded veterans.

"They come back. They're on their own," Deem said. "You see them coming through airports, taking off prosthetics. It's sad."

Johnston can empathize with today's wounded warriors.

"Being in the military from the Viet Nam era, we weren't treated the best when we came home," he said.

Then Johnston learned of the Veterans Airlift Command, a non-profit group of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots. They use their planes and skill to help wounded warriors and their families.

"Most military families don't have the resources to fly their whole family to see their son or daughter that's wounded in the hospital. Or vice-versa, getting them home," he said.

Johnston urged Deem to add Window World's plane to the volunteer network. That proved to be an easy sell. Justin Lane, whose father Art owns the company's Green Bay franchise lost both legs in Afghanistan. During recovery, Justin was due to be honored at a Packer home game but had limited time. V-A-C and Deem made an easier way home.

"You would have to fly from San Antonio to another hub, probably Dallas." Deem said. "Then you'd have to layover in another hub, possibly Chicago, and end up in Green Bay possibly 18-hours later. Where we could have them up here in about three-hours."

The Veteran's Airlift Command also helped Lance Corporal Josh Wege get home after treatment. And volunteers say they get much from helping wounded warriors.

"They're all very positive outlooks. They're not feeling sorry for themselves," Johnston said. "They're pressing on. So it's very rewarding on both sides."

"We've befriended many of these folks and we've talked about it." Deem added. "There's no doubt we get more out of it."

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