Mississippi WW II Veterans Finally Get To See Their Memorial - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Mississippi WW II Veterans Finally Get To See Their Memorial

Wednesday, May 11th was a day that 84 of our Mississippi World War Two veterans will never forget. On that day, 82 men and 2 women were  a part of the first Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight.

It's a nationwide program, that flies our World War II veterans to Washington to see their memorial. The flight is free to all veterans.

WLOX photo journalist Greg McNease and news anchor Jeff Lawson, were honored to go along on this inaugural flight.

The day began early, when three charter buses, with a police escort of more than 50 vehicles, brought the veterans to Gulfport Biloxi International. It was the start of what would be a wonderful day.

One WW II vet summed it up best. When asked what his emotions were, he merely said, "Elation, absolute elation."

Traveling with the veterans were more than 50 guardians. They had all paid their own way to accompany a vet. Some were family members, others had only just met days ago. But even for those, it seemed like an instant bond was formed.

Even at 6:30 in the morning, some members of today's military were at the airport to wish the veterans well. By 7am, a chartered U.S. Airways jet was on its way to the nation's capitol.

Once they landed at Reagan National Airport, a big crowd of volunteers, including a band, was there to greet them. We even saw airline passengers who just happened to be passing bye, but they took the time to stop and wave to our Mississippi WW II veterans and shake their hands.

@By late morning, the buses arrived at the WW II Memorial on a beautiful morning in the nation's capitol.

If you looked real closely, you could see the sparkle in the eyes of those 84 veterans. After all, they were about to step foot on the place they never thought they would live to see.

A bagpipe player lead them to the Mississippi marker, where they placed a wreath. Moments later, WW II veteran, Floyd Reynolds of Lucedale told us, "This is a remarkable place, so impressive, it makes you realize they appreciate what we have done."

Another vet, John Miller of Hattiesburg, called it "The most spectacular place I have ever been to."

Many of the Mississippi veterans stood in silence at the section  of the memorial that honors those 400,000 who perished in the war. Each of the 403 stars stands for 1,000 Americans who died.

After leaving the WW II Memorial, they stopped at the Vietnam Memorial, as well as the Iwo Jima Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial.

By late afternoon, the Mississippi veterans were there at Arlington for the solemn ceremony of the Changing of the Guard, at the Tomb of the Unknown.

Four Mississippi veterans placed a wreath at the tomb in a very solemn and moving ceremony.

By 3:30, it was back to Reagan National and the flight home. On board the flight, the volunteers had a mail call for the vets. Each received as many as 25 letters from South Mississippi school children, thanking them for their service. More than a few tears were shed, as the veterans read the touching letters.

 When they got home to the Coast, there was an extraordinary ending to this special day, as an estimated 3,000 people filled the airport.

They cheered, waved flags, and carried signs letting the veterans know how much the people of South Mississippi love and cherish them.

As we watched the ceremony, we thought back to 15 hours earlier, when an Honor Flight organizer told the vets this would be a day they would never forget.

How right they were.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight plans another trip to the WW II Memorial, in late September.

 

 

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLOX-TV)

Wednesday, May 11th was a day that 84 of our Mississippi World War Two veterans will never forget.

On that day, 82 men and 2 women were all a part of the first Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight.

It's a nationwide program, that flies our World War II veterans to Washington to see their memorial.

The flight is free to all veterans.

WLOX photo journalist Greg McNease and news anchor Jeff Lawson, were honored to go along on this inaugural flight.

The day began early, when three charter buses, with a police escort of more than 50 vehicles, brought the veterans to Gulfport Biloxi International.

It was the start of what would be a wonderful day.

One WW II vet summed it up best. When asked what his emotions were, he merely said, "Elation, absolute elation."

Traveling with the veterans were more than 50 guardians. They had all paid their own way to accompany a vet. Some were family members, others had only just met days ago. But even for those, it seemed like an instant bond was formed.

Even at 6:30 in the morning, some members of today's military were at the airport to wish the veterans well.

By 7am, a chartered U.S. Airways jet was on its way to the nation's capitol. Once they landed at Reagan National Airport, a big crowd of volunteers, including a band, was there to greet them.

We even saw airline passengers who just happened to be passing bye, but they took the time to stop and wave to our Mississippi WW II veterans and shake their hands.

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By late morning, the buses arrived at the WW II Memorial on a beautiful morning in the nation's capitol.

If you looked real closely, you could see the sparkle in the eyes of those 84 veterans. After all, they were about to step foot on the place they never thought they would live to see.

A bagpipe player lead them to the Mississippi marker, where they placed a wreath.

Moments later, WW II veteran, Floyd Reynolds of Lucedale told us, "This is a remarkable place, so impressive, it makes you realize they appreciate what we have done."

Another vet, John Miller of Hattiesburg, called it "The most spectacular place I have ever been to."

Many of the Mississippi veterans stood in silence at the part of the memorial that honors those 400,000 who perished in the war. Each of the 403 stars stands for 1,000 Americans who died.

After leaving the WW II Memorial, they stopped at the Vietnam Memorial, as well as the Iwo Jima Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial.

By late afternoon, the Mississippi veterans were there at Arlington, for the solemn ceremony of the changing of the guard, at the Tomb of the Unknown.

Four Mississippi veterans placed a wreath at the tomb. It was a solemn and moving ceremony.

By 3:30, it was back to Reagan National and the flight home.

On board the flight, the volunteers had a mail call for the vets. Each received as many as 25 letters from South Mississippi school children, thanking them for their service.

More than a few tears were shed, as the veterans read the touching letters.

 

When they got home to the Coast, there was an extraordinary ending to this special day, as an estimated 3,000 people filled the airport.

They cheered, waved flags, and carried signs letting the veterans know how much the people of South Mississippi love and cherish them.

As we watch the ceremony, we thought back to 15 hours earlier, when an Honor Flight organizer told the vets this would be a day they would never forget.

How right they were.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight plans another trip to the WW II Memorial, in late September.

 

 

 

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