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Honor Flight takes off in Houston

Veterans tour World War II monument in Washington, D.C.

Created date

November 20th, 2014
three men in front of Honor Flight memorial
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Three World War II veterans who live at Trace recently returned home after a two-day trip to Washington, D.C., courtesy of Honor Flight Houston.

 

Charles Holland, L.D. Todd, and Bob Holmes were among the 24 veterans aboard Honor Flight Houston’s third mission out of Hobby Airport.

Honor Flight Houston is part of the national Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit organization that takes veterans, free of charge, to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials honoring their service. Honor Flight is funded through private donations.

The trip included a visit to the World War II Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the Marine Corps War Memorial (also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial), the Air Force Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial. 

“Honor Flight Houston took its inaugural trip in April 2014,” says Ashley French, chairman of Honor Flight Houston. “Our goal is to take as many World War II veterans as possible to see the memorials dedicated to them.”

Honoring our heroes

Charles Holland enlisted in the Army Air Corps in December 1942, four months after his eighteenth birthday. He served in New Guinea, Philippines, and Japan, providing air support for the infantry.

“This was my first trip to see the memorials in Washington, D.C.,” says Charles. “I felt so much love and respect during the two-day trip. It was an unbelievable journey. Every World War II veteran should have the chance to experience what we did.”

Bob Holmes echoed those sentiments. Bob served in the 87th Infantry Division during World War II. 

“I really enjoyed the chance to see Washington again and visit the memorials for the first time,” says Bob, who used to live in Baltimore, Md. “This trip was especially meaningful because no one ever said ‘thank you’ for World War II before.”

L.D. Todd served in the Army Air Corps from November 1942 through January 1946. 

“I was a liaison pilot,” says L.D., who participated in the invasion of Okinawa. “We transported the wounded from behind the front lines. It was essentially the job done by helicopters today.”

L.D.’s daughter, Dee Todd-Simmons, accompanied him on the trip as his guardian. Each veteran travels with an assigned guardian. Guardians are volunteers who ensure the veterans have a safe, memorable, and rewarding experience.

“It was a whirlwind trip, but so meaningful for my dad,” says Dee.

Special touches

The veterans knew their itinerary before the trip, but they weren’t privy to the special details arranged by Honor Flight to ensure theirs was the trip of a lifetime.

Fire trucks with lights flashing provided a water cannon salute as the veterans took off in Houston and again when they landed in Washington, D.C.

Flag-waving crowds greeted the veterans as they disembarked from the plane, many holding signs to welcome them.

And on the plane ride back to Houston, each veteran received a package of letters from family members, friends, and schoolchildren.

“We contacted family and friends of the veterans ahead of time and asked them to write letters for us to hand out on the plane ride home,” says French. “It was reminiscent of mail call during their time in the service, before the days of email and texting.”

For Charles, mail call was one of the most touching aspects of the trip.

“It was something special, just like in the old days,” he says. “It brought tears to my eyes.”

For more information about Honor Flight Houston, visit honorflighthouston.org.

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