World War II veterans enjoy visit to Washington D.C. - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

World War II veterans enjoy visit to Washington D.C.

Posted: Updated:
WASHINGTON, DC (WLOX) -

Around 90 World War II veterans from Mississippi spent the day in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. They were taken to our nation's capital to see the World War II memorial, courtesy of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight.

"You can go up there and get your boarding pass and then go upstairs," an honor flight volunteer instructed veterans, as they arrived at the airport early Tuesday.

Nearly 90 World War II veterans, with excitement in their eyes, checked-in and picked up their boarding passes.

"Yeah, we're going to Washington," one smiling veteran told a young man in uniform.

Following check-in, a final farewell from South Mississippi's congressman.

"Hey, good morning sir. How are you doing? Thank you for your service," said Congressman Steven Palazzo.

Two hours later, they enjoyed a hero's welcome at Reagan National Airport in Washington.

Hugs and handshakes and grateful smiles welcome the patriots to our nation's capital. Music from a brass band entertained, while historic headlines from decades ago were displayed in a vintage newspaper with the bold headline, "PEACE."

The heartfelt "thank you" at the airport was a mere prelude to the afternoon.

"Thank you for your service!" shouted by standers, as the Mississippi delegation arrived at World War II memorial. They were again welcomed with much respect and overdue thanks.

The vets headed toward the Mississippi column inside the massive monument.

"Great. It's a beautiful place. Beautiful place," said Nicholas "Corky" Hire, who turns 91 next week.

The 2009 Biloxi Shrimp King was barely out of his teens when he put on the uniform.

"I was 21 years old," he recalled, "It was tough. But when you're young, you don't pay attention to that, you know."

Rita Bailey fought back tears, as she explained the joy of bringing her father to the nation's capital.

"You're going to make me cry," she said, "Special. He's my hero. My sister and I both. We love him very much and are proud of him and what he did for our country."

Called by their country, these patriots put their lives on hold while they marched off to defend freedom.

"I first got in when I was 14," said Joe Kempner, "I lied about my age by two years. And got away with it," he recalled.

"We just did what we had to do, that's all. We just did what we had to do," said Henry Burkle. "I remember when England was getting in trouble and we were starting the draft. I went ahead and volunteered. And everyone else did the same thing. There were no heroes in the bunch. They were all heroes in my estimation."

The day included a visit to the Korean War memorial, with its wall of etched faces and marching statues of young men on patrol; soldiers with haunting eyes.

The Iwo Jima monument was also on the itinerary; that iconic image of raising the flag forever memorialized.

Following their whirlwind tour of war monuments in Washington, the humble heroes returned to the cheers, music and appreciation that was largely missing when they came back from battle.

"Oh my gosh, that was wonderful. I thought I was a star or something. All of us were stars," said Virgie Davis of Pascagoula.

Stars that deserved a long overdue thanks, to the greatest generation.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Gunshots inside a Gulfport home; one person is dead

    Gunshots inside a Gulfport home; one person is dead

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:39 PM EDT2014-07-23 16:39:15 GMT
    Gulfport police and the Harrison County coroner are investigating another murder. The coroner confirms an autopsy was being performed Wednesday on the victim.
    More >>
    Gulfport police and the Harrison County coroner are investigating another murder. According to a Gulfport Police Department news release, gunshots inside a Gulfport home killed a Carson Drive resident. Two suspects reportedly entered that home late Tuesday night and assaulted the victim while he slept. During that struggle, police report a gun went off, and a bullet struck the victim.More >>
  • Coroner: Girl's body was found in abandoned trailer's bathroom

    Coroner: Girl's body was found in abandoned trailer's bathroom

    Friday, July 18 2014 3:26 PM EDT2014-07-18 19:26:33 GMT
    It's been an extremely difficult day for family and friends as well as officers. So many people were crying, upset as the body of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson was removed from an abandoned trailer.More >>
    It's been an extremely difficult day for family and friends as well as officers. So many people were crying, upset as the body of 5-year-old Janaya Thompson was removed from an abandoned trailer. Coroner Gary Hargrove said Janaya's body was found in a bathroom.More >>
  • Two arrested for St. Martin burglary, TV theft

    Two arrested for St. Martin burglary, TV theft

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 11:44 AM EDT2014-07-23 15:44:17 GMT
    Investigators in Jackson County say two men who broke into a St. Martin home and stole a large television were arrested after they sold the TV a short time later.More >>
    Investigators in Jackson County say two men who broke into a St. Martin home and stole a large television were arrested after they sold the TV a short time later.More >>
Powered by WorldNow

208 DeBuys Road
Biloxi, MS 39531
(228) 896-1313

FCC Public File
EEO Report
Closed Captioning

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WLOX. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.