Eighteen World War II and Korea Veterans were escorted by police and motorcycle organizations from Johnson City to Washington D.C., April 22-24, as the Honor Flight of Northeast Tennessee took them to visit memorials and ceremonies erected in honor of their service in war.
Honor Flight provides the means for veterans to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. to honor their time and service dedicated to the freedom of their country.
On Friday morning, the Honor Flight is sent out with local police to meet motorcycle groups who escort them from Johnson City to the American Legion Post 177 in Fairfax, Va.
“Everyone is welcomed with a wonderful dinner and breakfast the next morning at our hotel, then board the bus to visit the memorials,” explains volunteer Edie Lowry. The veterans spend the day experiencing the Arlington National Cemetery, Air Force Memorial, Marine Corps War Memorial known as the Imo Jima Memorial, National World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial. The World War II Memorial provides a ceremony for the veterans with flags from each of branch of the military, and songs such as “God Bless America,” the national anthem and “Taps.”
Lowry is the president and CEO of the Honor Flight of Northeast Tennessee hub. She does all of the work as a volunteer and finds great joy in experiencing the memorials with veterans.
“Just watching the emotions the vets get looking at their memorials is a great experience,” said Lowry. “I’ve had several veterans tell me that they can go back home after one of our trips with peace of mind as they lay their heads on their pillows for the rest of their lives. It’s closure for them. I love that the memorials were built to honor the sacrifice and service for both the living and the dead.”
Vern Dauerty, 91, served in the U.S. Army as a medic in World War II. Dauerty was one of the 18 veterans who went on the April trip. He said he joined the Army to see the world, and definitely traveled it during his time serving his country. Since he didn’t come home from overseas until 8 months after the war had ended, he felt he never received the recognition that the other soldiers did when they first came home.
“Going to the memorials and the Tomb of the Unknown was a very rewarding adventure,” said Dauerty. “We were behind the ribbons instead of being in the crowds. Guards saluted us as they went by. The whole trip was one recognition after another.”
There are 133 hubs of Honor Flight Networks in 43 states across the country with the goal of helping America’s veterans who are willing and able to ride a bus to visit their memorials. The Northeast Tennessee hub supports the Tri-Cities, Virginia and North Carolina, and will take their next trip Oct. 6-9.
Lowry said they’re currently looking for any World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans that would be interested in going on the fall trip. The organization relies heavily on volunteers giving of their time and talents to help serve deserving veterans. Anyone over the age of 18 who would like to be a guardian for an assigned vet on trips is encouraged to contact Honor Flight. To sign a veteran up for the trip, to volunteer to help or to donate to the trips, visitwww.honorflightnetn.org.