Final Honor Flight for NW Arkansas Vets Goes to D.C.

Published 05/05 2014 07:20AM

Updated 05/05 2014 07:25AM

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It took 60 years for the World War II memorial to be built in Washington, D.C.

Since then Honor Flights across the country have helped thousands of veterans see their piece of American history.
Now, as World War II veterans dwindle in number,  this weekend marked the last Honor Flight for them out of northwest Arkansas.

Arkansas veterans ready to board the final honor flight to Washington, D.C. - a trip they've waited their entire lives for.

"I just thought that since they didn't build the monument since 2005 that it was something that these guys needed to see."

But before even making it out of the airport, the vets and their guardians met with a one of a kind greeting.

"Just the people themselves , how glad they were to see us, it just made my heart go flop, flop, flop."

It's a feeling that didn't stop for Jack Williams as he wandered around the WWII Memorial.
"The memorials bring a lot of memories- some of them good, some of them not so good."

"I tell you, old memories with all my buddies again and everything."

Each star on this plaque represents 100 soldiers killed in WWII - the total, more then 400,000.
"I went all the way through. I was lucky.  Some of my buddies didn't make it."

At 94 years old, Williams will never foreget December 7, 1941, standing at Pearl Harbor, waiting to go to church. 
"I hear this airplane coming from behind me and pretty soon I see this big red ball go by my eyes, and he dropped the torpedo and I saw it hit the Arizona."

"(I helped) rescue several sailors from the Arizona as it was going down.  They were jumping off the ship. But all of them couldn't make it, there were 2,400 went down with it."

A powerful memory.... one of thousands,  that brought these men and women to this site, and also paying respects at the vietnam, korean and air force memorial.

Flying back it was time for mail call... receiving letters from family members and local students.

And just when they  thought it was time for taps...
Thousands of northwest Arkansans came together at the airport, creating a huge welcome home reception the veterans earned, yet never received, nor expected.
 "I'm really proud that I served my country the way I did."

"I know my son and I feel exceptionally honored for being able to make this last trip on the Honor Flight."
"I couldn't ask for anything better, it was wonderful."

To makes the honor flights possible, the Walmart Foundation and Tyson foods sponsored the events. The USO also provided resources and support. 

(Rebecca Jeffrey, KNWA)

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