|Published:||Sep 08, 2012 10:38 AM EDT|
|Updated:||Sep 11, 2012 3:56 PM EDT|
FORT MYERS, Fla.- Fifty World War II Veterans took a flight to Washington, DC to see the memorial built in their honor, many for the first time.
Veterans in the group served in WWII in the South Pacific and Europe theatres in the front lines, support roles, and one
as a prisoner of war.
The one-day trip, including the chartered plane and bus transportation throughout DC, are paid for by donations.
It was a hero's sendoff from Southwest Florida International Airport, as the veterans boarded their plane for DC this morning.
Each is paired up with a guardian who travels alongside them.
Veteran Gus Dubbs was anxious to see the World War II memorial for the first time. "After serving a few years in the Army and coming back here and seeing all these people my age, it's amazing because there's very few of us left."
He says out of the more than 300 people he served with, only about 9 are still alive. Dubbs says he's grateful for the opportunity to travel to our nation's capitol. "I think this type of experience is something every veteran should have. Whether they're from the Vietnam War or the Korean War or where ever they were, they should have reunions like this when they can get together and speak to each other and reminisce."
It didn't take long for W. Clayton Johnson to get to know his travel partner. It's his son, Clayton Johnson.
He says he wanted to get his dad signed up for the trip as soon as he heard about it. "Taking it with him is special, but taking it with all these gentlemen as we take this opportunity to honor what they did so many years ago. It's time they get honored for that once again and get to see the memorial in Washington," Clay says.
His father says he's proud of his son's patriotism, and was looking forward to the trip. "It will stir a lot of memories good and bad and I should say thanks to a lot of these other veterans around here."
Saturday's flight is the 10th of its kind in Southwest Florida. More than 600 veterans from Charlotte and Lee Counties have made the trip so far.
Close to 200 veterans are on a waiting list for a future flight. One has already been planned for Spring 2013.
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