GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — They’re a part of the greatest and toughest generation. Twenty-one World War II veterans flew to Washington D.C. to view the nation’s monuments, Saturday morning.
Before the trip, they were serenaded during their send-off to D.C. to see the World War II memorial.
They got an early start and flew out of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport before sunrise. The trip was organized by “Talons Out Honor Flight” of Southwest Michigan.
“And this will give them the opportunity to meet people,” Bobbie Bradley, the event organizer said.
She said this will also allow them “to do some therapy and celebrate who they are and what they did.”
Bradley put into perspective what the day means for younger generations. “You know we would not have our freedom if it were not for them. We would not be able to do this for them today if they had not done what they did back when they did it,” she explained.
A guardian accompanied each veteran on the trip to assist them, including Kenneth Wells. He said younger generations will sometimes come up to him and thank him for his service. However, seeing the World War II memorial will be a first for him.
“I have heard so much about it now I am going to see it. A lot of memories go into that, ya know, a lot of ’em,” Wells said.
Bradley snapped several photos of the experience. It was a full day of touring the nation’s capitol.
Their trip ended on a high-note. When they returned to the airport, a Native American tribe greeted them with song. Patriot Guard members held several American flags.
“It’s a great trip. It was unexpected. I had heard about all the monuments and all but had never seen them,” Wells said.
He said he was impressed with each monument, including the Korean War Memorial and Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima). However, one stood out in particular.
“Probably the best thing to put frosting on the cake was the 911 Museum, you know. and it was an area where you could reflect upon the death of your loved ones and understand what happened.”
Wells said before the trip he only knew one other veteran.
“And now I’ve got a whole bunch of new friends like always. So it was great, really enjoyed it,” Wells said.
“Talons Out Honor Flight” is already gearing up for the next trip. Sixty veterans will fly to Washington D.C. next May.