By Mr. Edward T Conning (TRADOC)April 30, 2014
SEATTLE (May 5, 2014) -- It's getting harder and harder to show gratitude to a veteran of the 'Greatest Generation.' Now in their late 80s and 90s, their numbers are dwindling at an alarming rate. Around 555 World War II veterans pass away every day, according to the National World War II Museum's website.
One non-profit organization, the Honor Flight Network, has taken on the mission to say thanks to these veterans by making arranagements for them to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. -- a monument some of them have never seen.
Our goal is to honor them, said Jim Peavey, Puget Sound, Wash., Honor Flight co-founder. "There's a reason why they're referred to as the 'Greatest Generation.'"
The Puget Sound Honor Flight network took 31 veterans on the three-day trip to the District of Columbia April 18. When they returned on April 20, four recruiters from the Seattle Army Recruiting Battalion, Capt. Connie Huang, Sgt. 1st Class David Hotelling, Sgt. 1st Class Darin Sholas and Staff Sgt. Paul Robertson, were on hand to greet the veterans. They along with members from the Navy and Marine Corps escorted them through the terminal and attended a ceremony recognizing the veterans' service.
"The honor flight is something that's special because you're honoring veterans that served before you," said Hotelling, battalion senior master trainer. "It does kind of hit you when you realize that it's probably the only time they'll see the memorial that's built for them," he said. "This is something that will leave a lasting impression."
Peavey and his wife, Renee, founded the Puget Sound Honor Flight 'hub' in March 2013 and took their first group of veterans to see the World War II memorial in October.
"We feel it's appropriate to have our service members in uniform welcoming the veterans home," said Peavey. "I hear a lot that the veterans are amazed that people still care about them."
"For a lot of them, it was their first time seeing the World War II memorial," said Huang, battalion operations officer. They were really surprised and very touched by the amount of people to welcome them back, she said. "It was very touching for me."
The Honor Flight Network gives priority to the oldest veterans or those who have a terminal illness. The network plans to expand the program to include flights for Korean and Vietnam wars veterans in the future.
The Puget Sound Honor Flight's next trip is scheduled for May 30. To learn more, visit: http://www.pugetsoundhonorflight.org/.