Some of Oklahoma's Finest left for Washington D.C. Monday morning. The veterans are visiting as part of the final Oklahoma Honor Flight; a trip that gives veterans a chance to visit the war memorials in the nation’s capital.
Oklahoma Honor flights were set up to make sure World War II Vets were able to see their memorial. But organizers say there are no more veterans able or willing to make the trip so Monday was the final flight.
Twenty-five Oklahoma veterans gathered for the pre-flight briefing early Monday morning. A large majority of those taking the trip are members of the Greatest Generation, including 103-year-old Cecil Ledbetter.
“It’s wonderful. I don’t feel like I deserve it, but I’ll sure take it,” said Ledbetter.
Just the anticipation of the trip brings up memories of serving during World War II. Bob Berry was a navigator on a B-17 named “Queenie” and recalls when the royal family visited the base.
“The Queen approached my bombardier and asked him about the name ‘Queenie’. He didn’t want to tell her because it was named after a stripper.”
Now, as they relive those old memories, they’ll create new ones.
“I’m looking forward to being with all the veterans,” said Roselyn Utech, the only woman veteran on the trip.
As the group de-planed in Baltimore hundreds of passengers lined up to greet them -- a show of respect that continued at the World War II memorial.
When it opened in 2004 many of those who fought in the war were already aging. Honor Flights were created to give them a chance to see it. In addition, during the two-day trip the Vets will also have the opportunity to visit the Korean and Vietnam Memorials. For many it will be the trip of a long and honorable lifetime.
The flight returns home Tuesday evening at Will Rogers Airport and the folks at Honor Flights are encouraging everyone to show up at the airport and welcome the veterans home.
After today, 2,055 veterans will have made trip, thanks to the generosity of Oklahomans. A different group in eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas is trying to raise money for a couple more flights.