WWII Vets Return to Wisconsin After Seeing Their Memorial
MILWAUKEE - "(It means) everything in the world," said a World War II veteran who got to experience the memorial created for him and all those who served our country in that important time in history.
One of the nation's largest honor flights went to Washington Sunday. The flights are put on by a local group, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, Inc, that is a hub of a national organization.
Listeners to Newsradio 620 WTMJ helped raise the $250,000 to pay for the trip.
A 747 took more than 300 vets from Wisconsin to see the memorial. Vets started arriving at Mitchell International just after 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning. The flight was scheduled to leave in the 6 o'clock hour. It took off a little late, but got off nonetheless.
Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Charlie Sykes says time is running out for many of these heroes to get that chance.
In their own words:
Watch for more on this story from TODAY'S TMJ4 HD's Jay Olstad on Monday's "Live at 10"
Sunday, the veterans finally got to visit the nation's capital and pay visits to the memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the Air Force Memorial and other locations.
"Right now, it's pulling a few tears from my eyes," said Leon Whittaker. "I never expected this. I never thought it would do something like this to me."
Walter Roe could not forget those brothers in arms who died fighting for their country.
"It sort of tears you apart," Roe explained. "You say 'Thank you, God' that you're still alive."
On the flight home participants received a 'mail call,' and were given letters of thank you from school kids and family members, and when they touched down at Mitchell Field late Sunday night, they enjoyed a welcome home celebration by hundreds of people waiting to greet them.
Honor Flights Staff Hope for Another Chance for More Veterans
Joe Dean is the president of the local Stars and Stripes Honor Flight program.
"It's a thank you that's so well deserved," said Dean to TODAY'S TMJ4 HD's Jay Olstad.
He says the 747 flight with more than 300 veterans was the largest they had ever done.
Still, the group has people on the waiting list who want to go see the World War II Memorial, so his group goes back to work.
"Our board of directors will meet on May 13th, and we'll set plans to make an announcement this summer, and if the stars line up, we'll hopefully go again this fall," said Dean.
Dean stressed that 12 veterans on the waiting list for Sunday's flight died before it happened.
Check out some of the pics from the trip...
The vets arrive in Washington D.C.:
Students play marches for the vets as they arrive at the airport: