The U.S. Airways aircraft, chartered for the day, left Hancock Airport about 7 am, into a clear sky with 64 veterans and Guardians we chose to bring with us aboard. Within an hour it landed at Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C., where the flight was greeted by hundreds of D.C. citizens, screaming and cheering.
After several hundred hugs and kisses we were taken by chartered bus to the World War II Memorial. The memorial was filled with Honor Flights from other States present at the time, enough to fill the entire basin.
We then visited the Korean Memorial. Perhaps you have read about 'the thousand yard stare'. It refers to the unfocused gaze of a soldier, weary from battle. It has been successfully captured on the statues at this memorial site. Within a short walk one can also see the wall listing 60,000 dead from the Vietnam conflict. After viewing these memorials one is quite aware of the human cost of war.
Our motorcycle escort remained with us, making it impossible for Park Service officers to close the gates despite the federal government shutdown. I guess the Park Service decided vets could enter without further hinderence.
Next we drove through Arlington Cemetery, watched the changing of the guard and saw Audie Murphy's grave site. Murphy was one of the most decorated soldiers in World War II.
By now most of the vets had enough of sightseeing. We were quieting down and ready to return to our plane. The plane returned us to Syracuse that evening.
SRC is a Syracuse-based not-for-profit research and development company that contracts to the U.S. government on defense, environment and intelligence projects. The company provides funding and volunteer support for honor flights each year, flying veterans to Washington to see the war memorials there. This year they raised the number of flights to four in order to bring 120 veterans from Syracuse to D.C..
I have never been part of a group that was so friendly and helpful to one another as that group of veterans and guardians. My special thanks to the executives at SRC for this special gift. It will become part of my war memories.
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