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Blustery day can't stop vets from enjoying WWII memorial visit

Posted November 4, 2010

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— Dozens of World War II veterans from the Triangle withstood a cold, damp day Thursday to visit the memorial in their honor on the National Mall.

The 100 veterans were part of the second Flight of Honor, which took off from Raleigh-Durham International Airport at about 8 a.m. and returned just over 12 hours later.

The nonprofit Triangle Flight of Honor provides all-expenses-paid, day-long trips for WWII veterans to see the memorial, which was dedicated in 2004.

WRAL viewers and online visitors donated more than $50,000 to sponsor Thursday's trip, as well as a flight in October.

Before the veterans departed, RDU firefighters provided a water-cannon salute, sending an arch of water over the plane as it taxied to the runway.

In Washington, veterans toured the WWII memorial for an hour in the rain before visiting other war monuments and memorials honoring Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.

Navy veteran Harry Greene survived Japanese suicide pilots ramming their planes into U.S. warships. Twelve of his buddies died in the war, he said.

"(The war in Pacific was) hell, especially Okinawa," Greene said.

He said he was glad to have an opportunity to visit the memorial.

World War II memorial, Triangle Flight of Honor Blustery day can't stop vets from enjoying WWII memorial visit

"This is great. This is something I have longed to see," he said. "It means a whole lot. At least someone remembered what the veterans of World War II did."

Raymond Sugg, 87, wore his original Army uniform on the trip.

"I knew I was going to come, but I didn't know when or how," Sugg said as he admired the memorial. "It's very moving. It's pretty, pretty, pretty.

"I'm kind of a representative of the boys that I left behind," he said.

"It's just a way of renewing memories, I guess, of what it was like and to come with all my buddies," said Ed Vause, who fought in Europe.

Sugg said the men he fought with were more than buddies, but he said the word "brother" was strong enough to describe the bond between them.

"You do things for them that you wouldn't do for your brother," he said. "(It was) a brotherhood you just can't imagine."

Flight of Honor organizers say they want as many of the aging veterans – many of whom are ill or on fixed incomes – as possible to see the WWII memorial.

The public was invited to give them a "Hero's Welcome" in the center atrium of the RDU parking deck around 8 p.m.

About 1,500 people greeted the veterans returning from the October trip, and organizers said they hope to double that number for this trip.

Triangle Flight of Honor is organizing another flight for next spring.

14 Comments

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  • avidreader Nov 4, 2010

    I just buried my 92 year old WWII veteran father this past Tuesday. This truly was the greatest generation - they gave so much and asked for nothing in return, just a chance to build a life, home and family.

  • chadcrews Nov 4, 2010

    Raymond Sugg is my next door neighbor and there is not a finer man I know. If it was not for Mr. Sugg and thousands of others like him, the life I live today would not be what it is. His generation earned the distinction "the greatest generation" for their willingness to stand up and fight for what so many take for granted. Thank you to all veterans, past and present for your service. We are all in your debt.

  • u stand corrected Nov 4, 2010

    "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States when men were free. -Ronald W. Reagan"
    citizensoldier16
    Amen. Semper Fi.

  • mgratk Nov 4, 2010

    Between traveling to the airport, getting through the airport and security and all the time and hassle involved, I think it would be easier for these folks to take a bus to DC, and cheaper, too. It is only a 4 to 4.5 hour ride to mall.

  • citizensoldier16 Nov 4, 2010

    Thank you to ALL veterans for your service! Unfortunately I cannot be there at RDU to greet these fine servicemen on their way home, but I will keep them in my thoughts.

    Every day our great nation looses more of it's "Greatest Generation". It's up to us, the current generation, to keep their memory alive and to pass on to our children, and our children's children, the heroic story of what they did for us.

    "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States when men were free. -Ronald W. Reagan"

  • unclegrits Nov 4, 2010

    Imagine what the world would be like today if these heros didn't defeat the Nazis.

    We owe them everything!

  • ArmyGF829 Nov 4, 2010

    Thank you for your service and hope it's a great trip! I wish I could be there tonight! I will show my support at the Veteran's Day Parade this Saturday!

  • a change of heart Nov 4, 2010

    Thank you to all of you who have served and are serving.

    All of my relatives who fought in WWII died before this memorial was finished, so I'm thrilled that someone's making the effort to get the surviving vets up there to see it.

  • LovinMyLife Nov 4, 2010

    I will be there tonight along with my mother, father, brother, and Grandmother to greet all the vets which includes my Grandfather. If you have a chance please come out so there is a crowd to support them.

  • justiceforall Nov 4, 2010

    Thank you all for your service, and for giving us the right to express our beliefs every day.

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