By WILLIAM J. KELLY
First of two parts
WOW! What an experience! I have done many things, been to many places, but I must say that the Honor Flight ranks right up there with the best of those occasions.
It was fabulous, a super event for all the 25 elderly veterans on the flight. There were three veterans from Weatherford on the flight – Lee Wheyford, Navy; Tommy Thompson, Army Air Corps; and me, William J. Kelly, Army Air Corps.
I learned that most people do not know about the Honor Flight, so for those of you who might not know it is a flight to Washington, D.C., for World War II veterans to see the memorial honoring them for their military service. There is no cost to the veterans for the trip. We World War II veterans, when we came home in 1945 or 1946, just took off our uniforms, hung them in a closet and then went to work or to college. We had given up five or six years of our normal life so we had to get going and fast.
Eventually Tom Brokaw, for our many accomplishments in both the military and as civilians, called us
“The Greatest Generation.”
World War II veterans did not clamor for a monument to their service and none was built. We just wanted to clear our minds of the death and destruction of war, which is not easy to do, and get on with our lives. We did just that! A common remark you hear from children of World War II vets is “my dad did not talk much about his World War II experiences.”
In the year 1987, a veteran named Roger Durban, of Berkey, Ohio, while talking to Congresswoman Marcy Kapton, wondered why there was no World War II memorial in Washington D.C., this was 42 years after the end of the war. That simple remake set in motion the efforts to build a monument to those who fought and died to preserve liberty for our citizens and the western world.