Honor Flight takes veterans to Washington

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKYT) - Early on a Saturday morning, 30 men gathered to remember days gone by.

"Welcome to your Honor Flight," said organizer Brian Duffy.

Honor Flight organizes trips to Washington so these vets can see the memorials built in their honor and dedicated to the memory of their fallen brothers in arms.

This was George Garrison's first time to ride in a modern day jet, and the welcome he and the rest of the group got in Baltimore was another first. A crowd had gathered and cheered as the veterans came off the jetway.

"It definitely makes a veteran feel good when people recognize them and welcome them," said Garrison.

In Washington, everyday routines didn't get in the way of showing respect. A jogger stopped mid-run to applaud to the veterans for several minutes as they stepped off their charter bus.

Garrison fought in the Pacific during World War Two. Looking out over the memorial, he was taken somewhere else.

"It takes me back to the Philippines. Exactly what it does. Faces I'll never see again," he said, gazing across the water.

Though his body won't allow him to walk, his spirit would take up arms again.

"See, I'm 93 years old and legally blind. All that I can do now, I want to do. If it was possible, I would do the whole thing over again. Of course, that's not possible. That's left up to somebody else," he said.

That service will be done by a new generation. A sense of duty that transcends all those years.

"Where'd you serve in WWII?" asked a young soldier.

"We fought in the Philippines. Leyte and Luzon," Garrison answered.

"With MacArthur?" the soldier asked.

Garrison was quick to respond, "MacArthur was there, but I done most of the fighting I believe!"

At the Korean War Memorial and the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, the veterans share memories others can't comprehend.

"I watched them put this flag up," said John Robbins, looking up the monument of the flag-raising on Iwo Jima.

"All the horns on those ships blasted off like the Fourth of July. I mean...it was...I can hardly relate it," he said.

On the way home, the veterans got a special treat - mail call, just like in the old days. They read letters from loved ones telling them how much they appreciate their service, and once on the ground, these few remaining from the "Greatest Generation" know they'll always be remembered.

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