3rd Wiregrass Honor Flight a Success

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World War II veterans took to the skies from Dothan to Baltimore for a chance to visit the World War II Memorial.

What an amazing experience. 89 veterans went on this weekend's trip. They had the opportunity to see the sights in Washington, DC and also to visit the war memorial dedicated in their honor.

At 5:30 Saturday morning veterans made their way to the Dothan airport to prepare for the experience of a lifetime, a free trip to Washington, DC to see the memorial dedicated in their honor.

Wiregrass Patriot Guard Rider Jon Paulding said, "We are out here to support our veterans, past, present and future. We are here to honor them in any way we can."

Paulding is one of several Wiregrass Patriot Guard Riders who showed up at the airport to show his support for our veterans.

Paulding said, "We need to recognize the veterans who have put their life on the line in the past because it's been a long time since anyone has said thank you to them. We are out here to do that today to do that to the ones who've come home, that their military is there for us and they are putting their lives on the line and we need to support them."

And he wasn't alone in his show of support.

Victoria Patton drove down from Auburn University to help a stranger on his trip to the memorial.

Honor Flight Guardian Victoria Patton said, "I think it's important because what opportunity am I going to get also to go see this and to experience it with them is really special to me."

The Honor Flight experience is so important to our veterans, and it's volunteers that make that possible.

Baltimore Honor Flight Network volunteer David Lynn said, "It's a real priviledge for the honor flight network ground crew to get to meet our veterans because they are the heroes of WW II. They clearly are the greatest generation for their valor, unimaginable bravery, and the persistence they had during terrible times."

And the lines of support as the veterans took off and arrived each time did not go unnoticed by the veterans themselves.

World War II veteran Everett L. Roper said, "People just said thank you for what you did, like they'd known me all my life. I don't know what else I could say; just I didn't realize so many people appreciated what we did in WW II, so many people."

World War II veteran Bill Pullum said, "I think it was wonderful that the volunteers got involved in this. We had 12 million men under arms in WW II and these people appreciated all that was done by all of them and we are just a small part of it and the volunteers, we couldn't be here without them."

World War II veteran Bobby Crosswhite said, "I really enjoyed it and I got greeted by a bunch of servicemen and women and I told them that I was proud of them too because when we went in WW II you were drafted; you went in whether you wanted to or not. I'm proud to see that these people love our country and volunteer."

The trip is one that without the honor flight program many veterans may never have had the chance to experience.

Crosswhite said, “When you get past your age you don't live around much longer. I thank the Lord I've lived this long."

While we were in Washington many of the veterans had the opportunity to meet the oldest living World War II veteran. He's 102 years old and was treated like a celebrity. While visitors to the monuments wanted pictures with our veterans, our veterans wanted pictures with him. So, it was a great trip for them.

Tuesday on News 4 at 6 and 10 we'll follow one veteran as he experiences Washington and the War Memorial for the first time.

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