2009 Texas Panhandle Honor Flight: Part 2, The Meaning of the Memorials

World War II Veteran Glenn Campbell
World War II Veteran Glenn Campbell

Amarillo, TX -- The main purpose of an Honor Flight is for World War II Veterans to see the World War II Memorial.

However on the all expenses paid Texas Panhandle Honor Flight,  close to 80 area World War II Veterans saw much more, and for many,  the other monuments and memorials brought back even more emotional memories.

As the battle of Iwo Jima raged around Texas Panhandle World War II Veteran Glenn Campbell, he looked up with desperation from the USS Hansford,  and couldn't believe his eyes.

Campbell says, "We witnessed the first flag raising. We could see it with binoculars. We pointed out, hey they're raising the flag on top of Surabachi. Later on, I guess it was about 4 or 5 hours later, we saw the bigger flag go up."

On the 2009 Texas Panhandle Honor Flight, Campbell and other Area World War II Veterans experienced the flag raising again, at the massive Iwo Jima Monument.

Campbell says, "It was harder today than it was back then. Just remembering the ones that didn't make it back."

The three day trip in Washington, DC brought together World War II Veterans from all branches of service.

And visiting the Iwo Jima Monument,  or the Navy and Air Force Memorials, reminded them they all fought together to preserve our freedom.

World War II Veteran Harry Stumpf, who was also at Iwo Jima during the flag raising, says, "I've seen more dead Marines and hurt people in three weeks than most people see in their lives."

The trip is so emotional because for many of the warriors, they've kept the memories to themselves for six decades.

World War II Marine Donald Smyth fought in Korea as well,  and the stop at that memorial touched him the most.

Smyth says, "Makes you go back to where you were, instead of just remembering them. On the wall, you see their faces. Some of them look familiar."

It's that sense of familiarity from all of the monuments and memorials that makes the Honor Flight so unique for veterans like Campbell and Smyth .

It allows them to finally come to peace with their sacrifices for our freedom.