42 World War II veterans from the Texas panhandle just took a trip of a lifetime to Washington D.C. to experience the memorial erected in their honor.
NewsChannel 10 went on the trip as well, and every morning this week we'll bring you the stories from the inaugural Texas Panhandle Honor Flight.
For World War II veteran Garlen Eslick, his experience of survival aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor remains fresh in his mind. He says, "I came to the salt water, fresh water brought me to, and I was the only sailor left in my handling room alive, so that's when the war started with me."
While Eslick can still see the start of the war clearly, He and 41 other Texas panhandle World War II veterans now have a special sense of closure after taking a special trip.
Veteran Royce "Cotton" Boyce says, "It's great...Even when I went to bed last night, I kind of clouded up thinking about what we went through yesterday."
John "Bill" Rains says, "I think it's wonderful. It kind of chokes me up to be around it, but I just think it's wonderful."
On the trip, the veterans also saw a number of other memorials in D.C. on the all-expenses paid trip. At the massive Iwo Jima monument, veteran Lloyd Ford saw the statue of his personal friend Ira Hayes raising the U.S. flag. Ford says, "It's a wonderful monument to Iwo Jima and the Marine Corps...I'm proud to be a Marine.
Like Ford, each veteran took something different away from the trip. For Eslick, it was the honor of laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier. He says, "That was the experience of my lifetime. It was such an honor to be out there and be a part of history."
Eslick and the other vets became a part of history when they fought in the war. Now, after seeing their grand memorial in Washington D.C. and experiencing this trip, they know history will never forget their sacrifices.
Along with veterans, 20 guardians went along to help take care of special needs and make sure everything ran smoothly. American Supports You Texas organized the trip...All paid for with private donations.