Approximately 80 Hoosier World War II veterans and accompanying guardians are headed to Washington D.C. today for a one-day trip to visit the memorial in their honor. Today marks the first Honor Flight out of Indianapolis.
Organizer Grant Thompson says it all began in 2004 when an Ohio doctor and pilot took it upon himself to fly one of his patients to Washington D.C. to see the World War II Memorial.
“One doctor, one man out of Ohio that asked one of his patients – think you’d ever like to go and see that memorial? And that veteran told him, ‘I’d love to, but I don’t really have the money and my health isn’t too good either,’” Thompson says. “And that’s when the doctor reminded him, not only am I a doctor, but I’m also a pilot. So he flew that one veteran out to D.C.”
Now Honor Flights have hubs throughout the country to say thank you to the men and women who served during that time.
Thompson says the group will visit that memorial as well as other war memorials and will lay a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery. The group includes a veteran who recently turned 99 years old, a marine who has fought in four wars, and three women who served as nurses and in other roles supporting the war effort.
Thompson says the average age of the participants is 89 years old. The group will spend the day in Washington D.C. then return to Indianapolis this evening. Thompson says he would love to see their homecoming as large as the trip itself since many of these men and women didn’t have a homecoming when they did return.
The public is invited to the National Guard Armory in Indianapolis at 8:30 p.m. to greet the group when they return.