Amarillo, TX -- As we wrap up our week long, exclusive series on the 2009 Texas Panhandle Honor Flight, we reflect on the what this trip meant to our area World War II Veterans, as they reflected on their experiences.
It's a trip taken in their honor, three days in Washington, DC with constant first class treatment everywhere they went.
The Honor Flight left quite an impression on area World War II Veterans like Donald Smyth.
He says, "It's been great. It's brought back a lot of memories, things you don't think about much."
The highlight of the trip is the majestic, grand yet solemn World War II Memorial.
Veteran Frank Robinson, who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, says, "Beautiful, it's really beautiful. It's really something everyone should see in life."
Specifically, the sun soaked still water reflection of the more than 4000 gold stars representing the more than 400,000 US Service Members who died in the war, helped the Veterans discover a new appreciation for their own survival.
Harry Stumpf, who was running radio on the USS Hansford at the battle of Iwo Jima, says, "We were scheduled to go to Japan. Thank God the atomic bomb fell and I didn't have to go, or I probably wouldn't have been here. "
As the trip ended, while the World War II Veterans took away a new appreciation for their experiences, the guardians took away a new appreciation for the warriors and their service.
Dr. Jack Waller, who served in Vietnam and went on the trip as a guardian, says, "You always feel a connection with anyone that has served in the military. But these men served not a year like most of us did in Vietnam, but an interminable period of time until we defeated the enemy. Just to be with these guys is an honor."
While the trip is to honor this greatest generation of veterans, veterans like Smyth use the trip to extend that honor to his brothers in war that didn't make it.
He says, "Those guys gave their lives for a freedom we still enjoy. Freedom's not free, and people pay, and sometime's people don't remember."
But for all 167 people on this Honor Flight, it was all about remembering, and letting our area World War II veterans know we'll never forget.
The trip is all expenses paid for the veterans, so to make it happen, people across our community donated more than $140,000.
America Supports You Texas plans to take two trips next year, to make sure every area World War II Veteran has the experience.