World War II monument helps Honor Flight vets recall those gone
The Sun Herald
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Crowds greeted South Mississippi veterans as they arrived at the sprawling World War II Memorial here Wednesday in the first stop of their Honor Flight visit.
The group walked along the grounds, reading quotes from presidents Harry Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and stared into the fountain at the site near the Washington Monument.
U.S. Army Air Corps vet Thomas Adams, 91, of Pass Christian said that judging from the photos he'd seen, he hadn't like the memorial before actually seeing it.
"It's appropriate, he said. "I didn't like the pictures when I first saw them, but when I walked in and saw it ... it's good."
Others, like 86-year-old Air Force vet Jeanne Moulder, said being on the grounds called to mind those who were long gone.
"I'm thinking of all the boys that didn't get to see it," she said.
The day in D.C. began at Reagan National, where crowds lined the terminal, some standing with tears in their eyes, as about the veterans arrived on their Honor Flight.
A band played patriotic songs as the veterans come off the plane to see the travelers, who had lined up to shake hands and them the vets for their service during World War II.
U.S. Marine Corps vet James Foster, 87, of Koscuisko, said the greeting was a very pleasant surprise.
"It was wonderful," he said. "It was a good surprise that shows us people still appreciate what we did during World War II."
Foster, who was seriously wounded at the battle of Okinawa in 1945, said he and his fellow warriors were here today only because of 'divine intervention" on the battlefields decades ago.
Russell Petrello, a retired U.S. Army vet from Bangor, Maine, took a minute from his travels to thank the vets as they arrived. He described the event as emotional.
"They're all very deserving of this," Petrello said.
The first stop on the trip is the national World War II Memorial, before the vets move on to the Korean and Vietnam war memorials and Arlington National Cemetery, as well as other sites, before they return to Gulfport later today.
The day began for the 90 or so veterans before 5 a.m.
Navy vet Carl Megehee, 86, of Pascagoula, said he was looking forward to the trip with the other vets who survived the war and have lived well into their 80s and some into their 90s.
"We've made it this far, Megehee said with a laugh.
The Sun Herald follows the Honor Flight trip online and in Wednesday's Sun Herald.