Several dozen veterans flew out from Palm Beach International Airport Saturday morning and headed to Washington D.C. to take part in military tributes. It is Honor Flight’s last trip of the year.
Photographer: U.S. Navy
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Several dozen veterans flew out from Palm Beach International Airport Saturday morning and headed to Washington D.C. to take part in military tributes.
WWII Veteran Kenneth Stone, along with 82 other retired service men, packed a crowded terminal to head to D.C .on Honor Flight’s last trip of the year.
Stone said, “I’m curious, I got to find out what these honor flights are all about.”
He will, as he takes a walk down memory lane in the nation’s capital while visiting memorials built in his honor.
The 89-year-old fought in the Battle on Leyte Island while serving as a flight engineer in the U.S. Army.
“Delivering bombers from Willow Run to London and it was a great career, said Stone. “Most of my friends and buddies are gone, but on the other hand my memories are very full and very rich.”
Honor Flight coordinates the memorial trips for veterans, four times a year.
Vice Chair, Todd Tucker said, “To spend time with living legends like this, it’s just, every flight is special.”
Organizers partner the Vets with guardians to watch over them while in D.C.
Ironicly, Stone and his guardian, Donnie Mullen, are connected.
“My uncle was killed in WWII in the same battle that he was in Leyte Island, so the connection that we have without even knowing each other is pretty powerful cause I never got to meet the guy, I was named after him,” said Mullen.
Mullen said he’s honored to guard a man who gave so much.
“The price that they paid, nobody realizes anymore, I mean it was 66 years ago and nobody even understands what the cost was.”
It is a cost Donnie feels could never be paid in full.
The Patriot Guards escorted a bus of veterans from Stuart to the airport.
Honor Flight will pay tribute to fellow guard, Jack Regan, who was a captain rider with a special ceremony in D.C.
Regan was killed by a drunk driver back in September as he was heading north on I-95 to escort another Honor Flight.
Todd Tucker said Regan was a hero.
“Our committee decided that even though Jack wasn’t a vet himself, he spent so much time honoring veterans, that we thought it was fitting to honor jack with a flags of our heroes presentation,” said Tucker.
Honor Flight will return tonight around 8:20, where Regans’ widow will receive his photo and a flag.
Organizers ask the community to come out to PBIA Saturday evening and support “Operation Homecoming” as vets make their way back to South Florida.
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