Hundreds of World War Two veterans from Missouri have taken free trips to the National World War Two Memorial in Washington D. C., thanks to the Honor Flight program.
Missouri Honor Flights are operating from several cities, part of a four-year old program that began in Ohio and has spread throughout the nation.
Local leaders such as Charlie Thomas of Sedalia raise money to fly veterans at no cost to their monument and other monuments in Washington. “Our stated goal is to fly every World War Two veteran to their memorial before it is too late,” he says.
Thomas founded the state’s second Honor Flight chapter in Sedalia. He says the one-day, 20 hour round trips have a number of emotional moments. Sometimes veterans are prompted to do something they have not done in 65 years or more—talk about their experiences.
“One of our guys was at Iowa Jima,” recalls Thonmas, “and he didn’t want to talk about that… But he did open up and in a tearful way he told us…that when he was there that the bodies were so thick you couldn’t walk. It came rushing back to him and you could visibly see that in his face.”
Thomas, the son of a veteran who did not live to make one of these trips, says they’ll continue as long as there are World War Two veterans and then they’ll go on for veterans of Korea, and Vietnam, and even later wars.