On Friday, June 14th (Flag Day), I was honored in making a World War II Veterans' trip to Washington, D.C. Thirtyfive World War II veterans from the Austin area flew to see the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial (black wall with near 60,000 American military personnel killed names inscribed thereon), Korean War Memorial, Iwo Jima statue, Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, plus others.
The changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Arlington National Cemetery, was very moving. We went to the grave of Texas' great hero of the WWII, Audie Murphy. Our visit through the four-story building - The Holocaust Museum - was overwhelming. The artifacts from the murderous event were displayed therein.
On Saturday the 15th of June, 2013, other World War II Veterans' Honor Flights were there from as far away as Oregon.
A large crowd of people saw us off from the Austin airport. On our arrival at Regan National Airport in DC, we had a royal welcome by a large crowd. Texas Senator John Cornyn greeted and shook hands with each of us on our arrival.
We were each assigned a Guardian (escort) - mine a fine young Marine Sargeant. These Guardians never left our side (except at night) during the entire time we were there. All Guardians and Honor Flight personnel were volunteers.
A large crowd cheered us as we were leaving the airport terminal in DC, and a very large crowd greeted us on our arrival back at the Austin airport. Water cannons were sprayed on our planes each time we left and arrived.
Just before we (the World War II vets) left the Austin airport, we were honored by the Mayor of Austin with medallions and certificates. The oldest in our group was 95 years old, and the youngest was 84.
So many of the folks that greeted us, shook hands and photographed us, as a group and individually, were parents with children. Their overwhelming theme was "Thank You and God Bless You," for your service. For me and the other 'vets,' this was an awesome and moving event.
There was so much more - maybe a little more later. These "Honor Flights" are privately funded by donations.
God Bless America!