Washington DC (WXOW) They waited more than 65 years for one more mission. On Saturday one hundred area World War Two veterans boarded a plane for Washington DC to visit their memorial. The trip made possible by the Freedom Honor Flight program. News 19's Amy DuPont went along on this emotional journey and has more on the story.
Wally Anderson and his son Mike have done many things together, but nothing compares to mission this father and son about to embark on together.
"There isn't a man I respect more than my dad and to be able to have this opportunity to go with him is great."
Wally, an Air Force man, proudly served in World War Two. More than 65 years after the war's end Wally and Mike, along with 100 other vets, are headed to Washington DC to see their memorial.
Earl Morse, Honor Flight founder says this about the organization: "They thought they were forgotten. Not today. Not out of Wisconsin."
The trip is made possible by Freedom Honor Flight and Honor Flight Network founder Earl Morse. "World War Two vets literally saved the world. Today all of Europe is free, all of the pacific is free and thank God America is free. That didn't just happen. They made it happen and for them to have waited so long for a memorial and have no way to get here. Now were making it happen."
The vets making the trip are treated like the war heroes they are. Friends and families see them off waving American flags and signs.
When they arrive in DC Honor Flight volunteers meet them at the gate. Strangers committed to giving them the warm welcome they deserve.
The pageantry continues at the memorial where Senator Bob Dole, also a World War Two veteran, greets his comrades and thanks them for their service.
"You see old me that are acting young again. It's just nice to see and they are all excited. It's wonderful.
But after the initial fanfare; moments of reflection. Time to take in the memorial and for the veterans, now in their 80's, to reflect, some for the first time, on the soldiers that didn't come home.
Coast Guard Vet Irene Bartz says: "I'm just overwhelmed. Its just, more than the heart can stand."
A bittersweet experience that will last a lifetime.
Army Vet Claude Sebion says: "God I'm glad I'm here. Yeah, I'll remember it. Believe me it's a special day."
Earl Morse says:"They thought they were forgotten. They thought nobody cared, and they thought they would not be remembered. That all changes with Honor Flight."
Back in La Crosse family and friends are gathering again for one more heroes welcome home.
Wally Anderson says:" That was my favorite part, when you come home here and saw all the people and everything."
Mission accomplished for this father and son and their comrades, who gave so much of themselves and never expected, some 65 years later, to receive so much in return. T
his was the 7th Freedom Honor Flight out of La Crosse. The trip is free for vets. Kwik trip sponsored Saturday's flight.