WASHINGTON, D.C. – Veterans from across the country are traveling to D.C. once again after the COVID-19 pandemic grounded Honor Flights for 18 months.
The nonprofit gives all-expenses paid trips to those who served during the World War II, Korea and Vietnam eras so they can visit the memorials honoring their service. NewsChannel 34’s Jessi Turnure reports.
“God bless the United States.”
A hero’s welcome.
“Thank you, sir.”
For 122 veterans at the memorials dedicated to honoring their service and sacrifice.
“Ok, big smiles!”
Strangers at the National Mall asked for photos and shook their hands.
While some families celebrated generations of military service in D.C. together.
This Honor Flight from Columbus, Ohio gave those who served during the World War II, Korea and Vietnam eras an all-expenses paid trip to reunite with those who survived and remember those who didn’t.
“A real joy to be out here today.”
Bill Lawson served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.
A time when he said many returned home to a much different reception.
“Being cursed and spat on. This is just a wonderful way to show them that we appreciate every military person.”
The pandemic grounded all Honor Flights for 18 months.
Precious time for some veterans who were hoping to take the trip, but passed away before they could.
“There’s not that many left from WWII that you can ask a lot of questions.”
Bill Jackson was the only WWII veteran on this Honor Flight. He served in the Navy where he manned a gun turret.
“Kamikazes hit us in the Philippines. Put 22 holes in our ship.”
“So you had a lot of close calls?”
At 96 years old, Jackson still has vivid memories of the war but was first reluctant to make the trip back to the memorial that honors it.
“Are you glad you did?”
“Oh yeah, they’ve been so nice to me. I can’t believe it.”
For Veterans Voices, I’m Jessi Turnure.