Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Among the multitude of attractions in Washington, D.C. are the memorials built to honor veterans who served and sacrificed for America. A nonprofit organization hopes to help living veterans in mid-Missouri and around the nation see them for free.
Honor Flight, a group that flies veterans to spend a day in the nation’s capital, recently took 61 mid-Missouri veterans — seven from Callaway — to see those memorials and more.
Two Fulton veterans who took the trip May 8 were Bill Conner and Charles “Wally” Waltrip, who traveled along with other Callewegians Jay Karr, Don Ernst, Bob Epperson, Bob Fisher and Clifford Borgelt.
Conner is a Korean War veteran who lives in Fulton. He was a tailgunner on a B-26 as a Staff Sgt. in the Air Force. Conner had been to Washington, D.C. before, this time he got to see the relatively new WWII Memorial.
“It was quite an honor to be taken on that flight,” said Conner. “It was different seeing (the memorials) with a group than it was when it was just my family. Everyone seemed to be pretty impressed.”
WWII vet and Air Force Staff Sgt. Waltrip, 90, also took the Honor Flight, marking his first trip to D.C. Waltrip, who was a radar operator in the Pacific Theater, said his combat experience wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and was humble when it came to his experience on the trip.
“It was nice, and there were a lot of people there,” said Waltrip. “I shook a lot of hands, and I just happened to be lucky enough to be picked. There’s a lot of other guys just as deserving that didn’t get picked, so I’m glad it was me.”
WWII veterans like Waltrip are given priority for Honor Flight trips, though the organization takes soldiers who served in Korea and Vietnam as well. Of the May 8 trip’s 61 Missouri veterans, 47 served in WWII and 14 served in Korea.
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