Honor Flight Southern Arizona departed Tucson early on the morning of April 5. On board were 25 World War II Veterans and their 23 Guardians. Thanks to the Honor Flight program they were on a free trip to visit their memorials in Washington, D.C.
This is a breakdown of the Veterans: Army 5; Marines 2; Navy 10; Merchant Marines 1; USAAC 4; and three women, WAAC 1 and WAVE 2.
When the Veterans arrived at the airport at about 3:30 a.m. they were met by their Guardians and passed between flag bearing Patriot Guard Riders with the American flags on one side and the military service flags on the other.
Once inside the terminal they checked in and then sat down and began bonding with other Veterans. Airmen from Davis Monthan AFB were joined by the Veterans’ family members and friends in greeting and visiting the Veterans.
At about 5:00 a.m. the Veterans were given their orders: “This is your Final Mission. Go to Washington and receive the Honor you deserve.” Master Sergeant Edwards from DMAFB sang the National Anthem and the Veterans with their Guardians, and led by the Arizona Rangers, proceeded to the departure gate. They were flanked by a cheering crowd who wished them well on a trip that they will long remember.
The flight was a little bit late but that did not dampen the spirit of those waiting. The welcoming crowd consisted of members of the Tucson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, members of Tucson Boy Scout Troop 308 and dozens of family members, friends and just folks who wanted to give them their long awaited welcome home. Cadets from the Flowing Wells Junior ROTC escorted the Veterans through the loudly cheering welcoming crowd. The Veterans were tired after a long day visiting their memorials but not too tired to enjoy the thanks given to by individuals shaking their hands and saying “thank you for your service.”
Honor Flight is a nationwide program that provides free trips to all Veterans to visit their memorials in Washington, D.C. Priority is given to World War II Veterans and those with terminal illnesses. Arizona is still flying WWII Veterans due to the number living here while other states are flying Korean Veterans.
Please go to www.honorflightsaz.com for more information on the Southern Arizona program. Go to www.honorflight.com to learn how Honor Flight became a reality. It is very interesting. Call Jerry Lujan at 818-6264 for information.