Honor Flight of Idaho 2013-A True Honor – Part 2 of 4
By Paul Donovan, Veteran, Heart ‘n Home Volunteer
Coming into Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., the Pilot made this announcement, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are on our approach to Dulles, and I informed the Tower that we are “Honor Flight.” The Tower told me, ‘Southwest Flight #…, you are cleared for straight in approach, you ARE number one for landing’.” The Pilot stated, “We would like to thank you World War II Veterans for your service and for flying with us. I wish we had you great men and women on every flight.” Instead of us being put into a holding pattern near the outer radio marker and flying around for an additional 20 to 30 minutes waiting to land, because we were “Honor Flight”, we got to land first and you should have heard the passengers explode in cheers, clapping, whooping and hollering! It was just incredible! Here we are on final approach and people were getting out of their seats to come back and thank the Veterans and the Flight Attendants scurrying to get everyone back in their seats. It was a sight!
We were greeted by wonderful men and women in lime green T-shirts with “Honor Flight” on them and escorted through the gates and out to a Tram for transport to the main lobby and baggage claim. They were an incredible group of volunteers who came to greet us, and to welcome us to the Nation’s Capital. We got to our hotel, the Holiday Inn near the airport and got to bed at about 12:45 AM EST. We were all exhausted.
On Wednesday September 4, 2013, our wake-up call came at 6:00 AM EST, but we were up before that, getting ready so as to assist the veterans getting up, dressed and ready for the day. During our coffee, I met a veteran, Don, who told me that he was a Marine during the war and was on Iwo Jima. He said he watched the flag go up on Mount Surabachi, during day five of battle. He said after that, for the next thirty days, it go “interesting.” I can’t even imagine what he and his fellow Marines went through during those dark and horrible days.
Our first stop, was the WWII monument to honor all the World War II Veterans. We arrived at 8:10 AM and went down the ramp to the floor of the memorial and as we began to read all the great writings by Roosevelt and Truman, Eisenhower and MacArthur, we began to feel what an honor this place truly is to these great men and women who fought and died for our freedom. We all witnessed a few tears, sighs, and some pats on the shoulders as we went from wall to wall, the wall of stars being one of the most awe inspiring. Each gold star on the wall represents 100 Americans killed in action. It takes one’s breath away to realize how many thousands of lives were lost.
After the tears dried, the goose bumps faded, the pictures taken and the Idaho Senators representatives greeted, we headed back to the tour bus for the quick trip to the Korean War Memorial.