WASHINGTON D.C. (KTNV) — Southern Nevada Veterans were shown the appreciation and honor they deserve through participation in an Honor Flight. Veterans shared this momentous occasion with other comrades, remembered friends and comrades lost and shared their stories and experiences with other veterans.
Honor Flight visits World War II and Korean War Memorial
A day full of reflection and memories for local veterans. It was day two of the Southern Nevada Honor Flight and veterans visited monuments and memorials.
At the World War II Memorial, there was a lot of reflection on our veterans. On this Southern Nevada Honor flight, there were two of our very own World War II vets and these veterans are becoming rare. They say if you see a World War II veteran make sure to thank them before they are gone.
It is a location that opened the wounds of war for World War II Veteran Henry Robinson.
“Thinking about the island of Tawa, it took 10,000 marines, killed to take that island,” Robinson killed.
Robinson and 23 other vets who joined him on this honor flight started their morning at the World War II memorial. Greeted by the National Guard and starting their journey with our nation's anthem.
A memorial that took Robinson back in time. He says he reflects on the friends and family he lost in battle. He says it’s a feeling he needs to face to help heal the pain.
“Well, you stop and think about it and the only thing that is important is our freedom, but it’s hard to remember,” said Robinson.
Another World War II Veteran, Alden Wadleigh, says his clock is ticking, but he needed to see this before his time comes to an end.
“I am deeply honored to be here,” Wadleigh said.
He did have one regret; he wishes his wife could have joined him.
“I know she is listening to all of this, and I hope when seeing her she says I did ok,” said Wadleigh.
On this Southern Nevada Honor Flight, we also had two Korean War Veterans, and they say as they walked past the memorial it took them back in time to when they were out in battle. They say it’s as if the artist was present when it all went down.
Korean War Veteran, Larry Barker, says the 19 stainless steel statues broke him down in tears. He says the people on the mural wall ring a bell.
“I see a lot of faces that I don’t recognize here, but a lot of them look familiar to the people that took care of me over there,” Barker said.
These veterans ran into strangers who thanked them for their service and hugged and kissed each veteran. For Barker, he says this is the best he has ever been treated.
“More people in the last five or six years have thanked me for my service than in the past 30 or 40 years,” Barker said.
Honor Flight Visits Vietnam Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, Marine Corps Memorial, and more
Hundreds of thousands of people who died during the Vietnam War are engraved in the Vietnam War Memorial, but there is one person, in particular, Michael K Hastings, who has a special place inside Larry Hastings's heart.
As his brother’s name was being etched on a piece of paper, he remembered the day his brother was killed in the Vietnam war on March 1, 1968. Hastings not only gets to experience Honor Flight but also pays his respects to his brother.
“It brings back all the great times I had with him and makes me wonder what times I could have had with him afterward,” said Hastings.
He placed a frame under his name it has his picture, and a poem Hastings wrote for his brother. A farewell to the man he called his best friend…but he says when he receives a thank you for your service, he knows it’s also meant for him.
The next stop is a location where thousands of their military brothers and sisters lay to rest. The Arlington Cemetery is one of the most sacred grounds in our country. A moment of reflection for Thomas Waters a Vietnam War Veteran. He remembered those he lost and those soldiers who remain unknown.
“I have many friends here and some of the friends that passed away are buried here at Arlington and I attended their funeral services,” Waters said.
Veterans say the Marine Corps War Memorial is one of the most symbolic and best ways to demonstrate why they put their lives on the line. They say seeing the unity as they raise that flag displays exactly why they decided to serve this country.
Joe Plank a Vietnam War Veteran says he hit a wave of emotions looking at this
“The suffering that they went through, those marines on that island, and what they had to go through and how many people we lost there,”
The veterans also checked out the air force memorial. The whole trip is an experience they say every American should have.
“This brought out things I have tried to block, and I got to see friend's names on the wall, and it is overwhelming.”
Mr. Waters says it makes Americans value our country more.
“They’ll understand freedom is not free, it was paid for with a lot of blood from a lot of Americans,” Waters said.
From the World War II Memorial to the Arlington Cemetery, for each veteran, it was an emotional experience as they reflect on and remember their time of service, but they say coming here on this trip has made it all worthwhile.
Honor flight says goodbye to DC and is welcomed back in Vegas
Honor flight came to an end and all 24 veterans have returned home from Washington D.C., but they bring back memories and stories that will last for a lifetime. After visiting places like the World War II memorial, the Arlington cemetery, and so much more.
They went together as strangers, but they are returning home as a family. They boarded the plane in Baltimore, Maryland without knowing what was to come. Once the plane was in the air they were given a special surprise.
Each veteran received a large envelope filled with letters from their loved ones, community members, and other friends. Letting them know how much they mean to us and thanking them for their service. Something very emotional for each veteran like Pamela and Phillip Raneri, a beautiful couple who has been married for 56 years and joined us on this trip. They both served in Vietnam. More than 30 letters in each envelope a feeling that was overwhelming for some.
“It’s heartwarming, there it is.”
Veterans say it was the icing on the cake.
“There was one from a little schoolgirl that had a nice little message, I would love to meet her, she’s probably about that tall.”
The honoring didn’t stop on the plane ride home, a special treatment was waiting for them at Harry Reid International Airport. Hundreds gathered at the gate to praise and applaud the veterans as they got off the flight.
Alden Wadleigh, one of our World War II Veterans, says it was incredible.
“It was a tremendous honor; I hope that I am worthy of it,” Wadleigh said.
Above baggage claim at the airport hundreds more greeted these heroes. Holding up flags and posters with messages like “Thank you for your service” and “We love you!”
It was an emotional sight for Vietnam War veteran Klein.
“It brings tears to your eyes; it is just very emotional,” Klein said.
All 24 veterans have arrived safely at home in Las Vegas and just look at the magnitude of people who have come out to receive their family members with open arms as they have finally returned from an incredible weekend; they say it was an experience of a lifetime.