The Lone Star Honor Flight for WWII Vets

time_honorflight_480Two weeks ago, I flew to Houston to join a charter flight that carried 111 WWII Vets from IAH to Washington to visit the WWII Memorial on the National Mall. They also went to Arlington National Cemetery and watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. I reported a video story that’s running today (Memorial Day) on TIME.com.

time_honorflight_2_360Among the veterans I met were decorated soldiers, bomber pilots, an Army nurse and a Navy WAVE. One soldier, Marco Barelas, was one of Merrill’s Marauders, the long range penetration special forces who fought against Japanese forces in northern Burma. The 86-year-old Barelas told me his unit marched nearly a thousand miles in the Burmese jungles, and he walked the Burma Road for 16 miles barefoot. “My feet were all to pieces and bloody,” he said.

Barelas was lively, using a walker, and made his way around the Memorial and the Korean War memorial and got a front row view of the changing of the guard.

AnneWattAnne Watt trained as an army nurse in hopes of being stationed near one of her four brothers who were serving in various theaters of battle around the globe. Dreaming of an assignment overseas, she was stationed, instead, in Arkansas, where she trained to attend soldiers in the event of an invasion of Japan. That, thankfully, never happened. The war ended, and all four of her brothers came home safely.

JohnDaroWhen John Daro was wheeled in by his guardian — son-in-law David Carr — he waved his arms like airplane wings. “Army Air Corps!” he haled as he glided past a row of applauding visitors, standing in honor in the airport concourse to give the vets a proper send off. “Just like the old days,” he said. I knew immediately this was someone I wanted to meet. “I was in a B-29!” he said with an jaunty inflection. He was a farm boy who always wanted to fly, and ultimately landed a spot in the pilot’s seat of bombers in an elite squadron.

Iris-&-Dick-HowesIris and Richard Howes both served in the war, and met two years after in Japan. They married in 1948. Iris signed up for the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in 1942 and served as a communication specialist. Mr. Howes was in the Army Air Corps and survived a crash landing during a paratrooper mission.

After a more-than-full day that began at 4:30 a.m. in Conroe, Texas and ended in the same Target parking lot at nearly 1 a.m. that night, I wasn’t sure who had the greater honor: the vets, or the guardians and observers who were privileged to spend the day with them and help them witness the heroic memorials created in their honor.

Hats off to Montgomery Junior High school, their principal Duane McFadden, and the indefatigable Brenda Beaven, a history teacher who saw a story about the honor flights on TV and was determined to do it for the veterans in her community. She rallied the school and local volunteers to create an amazing event.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “The Lone Star Honor Flight for WWII Vets

  1. Susan Barr RN

    HI Doug,
    I heard that you would be doing this videography and found it in my alerts….I do PR for the National Honor Flight and also send out the news clips for other hubs to use. Could I get a DVD copy from you and permission to duplicate but not alter it, please….It was perfect and a good length for meetings and demo’s.
    Thanks for all you have done for these guys and gals and Honor Flight!

  2. Jeanne

    Craig,

    Thank you for the fantastic job that you did with the video. As a Guardian on this flight, I can assure you that I had the greater honor. It was one of the most special things that I have ever been a part of.

    Thanks again for your outstanding skills, compassion & respect for our veterans.

    Best regards – Jeanne

  3. Willard Duff

    Hi Craig,
    I am always filled with emotion when I hear your voice and know you are personally involved and will tell a compelling story that will stir all who observe it.
    Thanks for a job well done,
    Dad

  4. Debra K. Cardwell

    I want to thank you for this beautiful rendition of one of the most wonderful days of my life. I was honored to be the guardian for my father, Robert Kit Cardwell, who served in the 379th out of Kimbolton, England. He was a B-17 pilot, who flew 43 missions (if I’m wrong on that number it would be 44). We attend the yearly reunions of the 379th. Dad and I had a wonderful time, and have many fond memories of that day!
    Again, Thank you for capturing all that you did.

    debra cardwell

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s