WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Greatest Generation did whatever needed to be done to defeat the Axis of Evil in World War II. The light is dimming on that generation each day. Of the nearly 18 million Americans who served in the military, only 3 percent were women.
"Honey, if you were in the Army...Actually, I have five boys plus my husband, so I'm used to being surrounded," said Veteran Ruth Allen.
Ruth Allen was surrounded by men Saturday. But that's nothing new for her, she was an Army Nurse during World War II, caring for the wounded when they returned stateside. As a surviving member of the greatest general, Allen was one of a handful of woemn in Washington D.C. Saturday with Collier County's second Honor Flight.
"Every place we went to was perfect."
And everywhere they went, people stopped to thank him for their service.
"It proves to me that I've done my job and that the people are happy for what I've done. Even though it's been many years ago. They still don't forget us. They remember us no matter what we've done, they're still there," said Bertha Diggs, a Veteran.
Diggs was a Navy mailman for the last three years of the War.
"I was taking care of the letters for the guys, all the packages, anything that came through the Post Office got sent out to the boys. I enjoyed the service, I was planning on going back again. But I said, no it's time to move on. Get married, have children."
Her grandson was her Guardian on the trip. The Guardians are volunteers who support the trip financially and then escort their Vet on this trip of a lifetime, their last mission.
"I feel very thankful because I mean, if it wasn't for them we'd probably be speaking a different language," said A.J. Ward.
Army Nurse Allen was with family too. Around her neck were her dog tags and her late husband's dog tags too.
"He was in the Navy. I out ranked him."
This was my second Honor Flight. I was on the Collier County chapter's first mission last year as a repoter, covering the trip for WINK News. But when you spend time with the greatest generation, you can't help but be changed. So, I started volunteering and boarded this flight as a Guardian for my new friend, Navy Vet Dick Gregory. It seemed to fit that he had the youngest Guardian on the trip who also happened to be a woman, because women in his family were no strangers to military service.
"My mother is buried up there in Arlington. And this is all part of family. My family has been involved in taking care of this country ever since the Revolutionary War," said Gregory.
Click here to read more about the experience.