Bill Battle

With 28 veterans from World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War representing the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, and a total traveling party of about 57, Franklin County Honor Flight made its one-day trip to Washington, D.C., and back.

And what a day it was.

Most veterans and guardians started the day by meeting at Mid-American Coaches at 2 a.m. Even at that early hour, one could tell that it was going to be a special day.

Led by Franklin County Honor Flight’s Jim Tayon and his deputies, the veterans were flown to Baltimore/Washington International Airport and then bused into Washington, D.C.

The first stop was the World War II Memorial, focus of the Honor Flight program.

Just as had been the case at BWI, the veterans were greeted by a cheering crowd as they made their way to the memorial.

At the World War II Memorial, Missouri legislators Sen. Roy Blunt and 9th District Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer greeted the party.

Veterans were given ample time to explore the memorial most had never seen.

From there, the group visited the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. As had been the case, there was an emotional response from the veterans. One Vietnam War veteran visited the wall, finding his close friend who had been killed in action while the two were stationed there. The veteran left with a rubbing of his friend’s name.

Visiting Arlington National Cemetery, the Franklin County Honor Flight veterans occupied positions of honor at a changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

The final stop was the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, where many interacted with the displays.

On the flight home, each veteran was given a packet of mail from schoolchildren.

The bus received an escort from motorcycle riders from Pacific to Washington, who stayed to give the veterans one final salute on a day they will remember forever.