"Never Forgotten Honor Flight", a Trip of a Lifetime

By: John DesRivieres Email
By: John DesRivieres Email

Nearly 100 World War II veterans and their guardians boarded the honor flight plane headed for Washington D.C., ready for a day full of memories and a few surprises.

After the hour and forty minute flight, the veterans were greeted by dozens of strangers at Dulles International Airport, receiving a true heroes welcome to our nation's capitol.

A short time later, the veterans boarded 3 different buses and began the trek to downtown Washington D.C.

The first stop was the Iwo Jima Memorial. The memorial depicts an image that will forever be linked with World War II.

It's an important stop for several honor flight veterans who served in that part of the war.

"It is because we fought for the whole thing, through the whole invasion, from the time it started until the end, bombarded it, shot down suicide planes", said Veteran, Leonard Olbrantz.

"We were heavily damaged two days before D Day by Japanese ships that were firing at us. We survived 9 direct hits, we almost sunk, but we survived", added Veteran, Don Evenstad.

After posing for a few pictures and being thanked by countless strangers, it was back to the buses, on the way to see the World War II Memorial.

The memorial has a column dedicated to each of the 48 states in the union during the war. On this day, the veterans are proud to represent thier native state.

"Wisconsin has represented this country well in all of our conflicts. Wisconsin contributions have always been great and wonderful", said Veteran, Robert Coleman.

"This is just fantastic and I wanted to get here to the Wisconsin addition and get our impression", said Veteran, John Worzalla.

The veterans visited many other prominent sites in D.C., including the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam wall. They even witnessed the famous changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

As the day winded down, the veterans got ready to depart D.C. with cameras full of new memories, and hearts reminiscent of old ones.

"I'm thinking about all the friends that aren't here. Those that aren't fortunate enough to take the trip that we've been given the opportunity to take", explained Veteran, Robert Burge.

On the flight home, there were still a few surprises left for these veterans. They were reminded of a time that brought them the most joy when they were serving...mailcall. The veterans opened up letters and gifts sent to them from friends and family, but that was far from the last surprise of the night.

After touching down at Central Wisconsin Airport just after 10:30 Monday night, hundreds gathered to give the veterans a special welcome home. Something many of them may not have gotten after returning home from war.

From takeoff to touchdown, the veterans received the heroes treatment. For them it was a day, truly never forgotten.

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