NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Early Wednesday morning, a busload of veterans from World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars pulled into the departures terminal at Nashville International Airport.
Some in wheelchairs needed help getting off the bus. The rest, stepping down and walking slower than they did the last time they were surrounded by this many fellow servicemen.
“It’s always interesting because we get veterans that stormed the beaches of Normandy, we get some that landed on Iwo Jima, we get some that were in Korea, Frozen Chosin, where Marines had to fight in subzero temperatures,” said Claude Morse, Chairman of the Board, Honor Flight of Middle Tennessee.
Heroes, a little worn from life, and no less worthy of recognition.
“It’s just amazing when you think of the hardships they went through to save the world for freedom,” Morse said.
This is Morse’s “13th or 14th” Honor Flight. As Chairman of the Board for Honor Flight of Middle Tennessee, he works with a team to organize 2 flights a year. Since it started in 2008, more than 600 veterans have traveled to Washington D.C, all expenses paid, to see the monuments built in their honor.
“It’s pretty nostalgic, and to know that I am going to be associating with a lot of veterans that represented the same thing — and that was to protect the freedom that we have here in the United States,” said Billy McElhaney, a Korean War veteran who served in the U.S. Navy.
“We are going to be able to see all these monuments and give honor to all those before us which is well deserved and needed,” said Joseph Pehm, Vietnam War veteran.
Pehm was last in Washington, D.C. before the Vietnam War Memorial was complete.
“I’m feeling a little anticipating. I lost a lot of friends out there and especially one guy I called my little brother and I am looking forward to seeing him and getting a little more closure,” said Pehm.
Bud Dawes, a World War II veteran, will also spend special moments reading the wall of names.
“My only son was killed in Vietnam in action, Vietnam in the Marine Corps. So this is going to be kind of a memorial to him to go, so my main thing is to go and see the wall,” said Dawes.
His daughter, Sherry Brock, added, “It’s going to be a very emotional day, and I know my father, he’s going to be very emotional. He doesn’t realize it but I think he is.”
“We are just thankful to be a part of this today.”
The veterans will visit the World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and the US Marine Corps War Memorial before going to the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery. Before returning home, they will eat dinner at Ft. Myer.
The veterans will return to Nashville International Airport Wednesday night at 10:00 p.m.