Flight of Honor takes veterans to D.C. memorial
Posted September 13, 2011
Updated September 15, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — Veterans of World War II took a free trip to the memorial in their honor Wednesday, thanks to the nonprofit group Triangle Flight of Honor. It is the fourth such trip this year. Report It: Send us your Flight of Honor photos
Accompanied by volunteers, 102 veterans, including some who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, took off from Raleigh-Durham International Airport amid fanfare around 8 a.m. They spent the day touring the World War II, Air Force and Marine Corps memorials in Washington, D.C. Veterans also stopped at Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
World War II Veteran Jerry Smith, 98, was the oldest veteran making the trip.
“It’s been a wonderful experience. I flew today for the first times since 1943,” Smith said.
Triangle Flight of Honor raises the money to offer the trips at no cost to veterans. Triangle Flight of Honor, Sept. 14, 2011
World War II veteran Leon Howell, 89, of Garner, was a sailor stationed at Pearl Harbor on the Day of Infamy.
"(The) ship in back of us was hit by Japanese and never touched us, but the captain said on Tuesday morning, if they'd hit us, we'd have blown sky-high like the Arizona," he said. "To see all these guys that were in the service when I was in service, there's a bunch of them here, and I think it's wonderful."
Seeing the memorial on Wednesday, he said, he couldn't believe how beautiful it was.
"I've been to Washington a lot of times traveling, (but) to see this, it's something. It really is," Howell said. "I think everybody should see it. I really do. It's something to look at."
The public gathered in the atrium of the airport parking garage Wednesday evening to give the veterans a hero's welcome.
“It’s fantastic. I’ve never had an experience like this. It makes you want to cry,” World War II veteran Howard Buchanan said while standing amid the crowd.