WWII vets fly to D.C. on honor flight - WSMV News 4

WWII vets fly to D.C. on honor flight

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More than 100 World War II Veterans from Tennessee are back home after an emotional trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial on Wednesday.

A chorus sang "God Bless the U.S.A." for the veterans as they exited the plane at Reagan National Airport.

The vets were part of the Music City Honor Flight and given red-carpet treatment during their quick, one-day visit.

"It's absolutely great," said World War II Veteran William Brown.

At the World War II Memorial near downtown, rain didn't dampen the spirits of the 102 World War II vets that made the trip.

"(I'm) wondering at the marvel of it all.  It's a wonderful sight," World War II Veteran James Moyer said as he stood looking out on the memorial.

As they visited the memorial built in their honor, it was as if they were taken back in time.

"At that time (of the war) I thought it was exciting, but now that I look back at it, I wouldn't want to go through it again," World War II Veteran Clarence Gadson said.

There's not enough time to hear all the stories the veterans have to tell.

"Lost one of the best friends I ever had when our ship took two mines and took 39 lives. That's one of the things I can't erase from my mind," said Eddie Birdwell as he pulled his brother in a wheelchair at the Memorial.

Lyda Speck, 97, was one of the two female veterans on the Music City Honor Flight. Even though women were not allowed to fight in combat at that time, she was a researcher at Los Alamos Laboratory where the first atomic bomb was made.

"Once the test one was successful, and then they had two more test ones to go. Little Man and Fat Boy put an end to the war quickly," Speck said.

The Music City Honor Flight was free of charge for the veterans.  Fifty guardians paid their own way and were responsible for three vets each.

"When I take these veterans to the World War II Memorial and see tears in their eyes, that's my pay," said Gary Drennon, Music City Honor Flight co-chairman.

The veterans also visited other Washington memorials, and witnessed a solemn changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

It was a day of honor and reflection, which some say was long overdue.

This is the third Music City Honor Flight; organizers are hoping to have at least one more next May.

If you are a World War II veteran, or know of one, who would like to be a part of the next Music City Honor Flight, visit their website at http://musiccityhf.org/

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