Honor Flight Columbus is in Washington, D.C., on the trip of a lifetime for soldiers who served our country. NBC4 went along with missions 109 and 110 in October. This story and the others that follow are meant to honor and celebrate veterans and to remember the life of sacrifice they made.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A predawn wakeup call came for 200 veterans to load out on a mission from Columbus to the nation’s capital. The veterans were to take a memorial tour for a day of reflection and remembrance. Without this type of service, the men and women might have never been able to go.
“We’re not heroes,” Vietnam veteran Gary Rodgers said. “The guys that died are the heroes.”
They traveled from the Navy Museum straight to the World War II Memorial. It was dedicated in 2004 to the 419,000 Americans who died. Nearly 60 years after victory in Europe in 1945, also known as VE Day.
Honor flight started for World War II veterans to see their memorial because it took so long to create.
During that 60 years, a lot of veterans never had the chance to see the memorial. On this trip, a WWII US Army corporal visited.
“Today has been a very joyous day,” said WWII veteran Jessie Johnson,97, from his wheelchair. 9
A lot of these soldiers tracked through Korea and the jungles of Vietnam.
“Here it is right here John Connor, Jr.,” a guardian said and pointed to a name on the Vietnam Wall.
58,320 names are etched on this wall.
“I can talk about it then I can shut it off that’s how I deal with it,” Vietnam Vet Mike Love said. “It’s very good to be here.”
“Their names on this wall, if they believe in God they will live again,” said Vietnam Vet Pete Pierson while he reflected when looking at the wall from his wheelchair.
So many soldiers explained that they never heard, “Welcome home.”
So when the planes landed at John Glenn International Airport 14 hours after the mission take-off, 2,000 Americans were waiting.
Decades later, these veterans got their heroes’ welcome home.