Honor Flight South Florida
Honor Flight South Florida, Inc is a Federal Non-Profit 501(c)(3) organization.
P.O. Box 16821 • Plantation, FL 33318 • Phone: 1-855-FLY-1-VET (855-359-1838) • For Information: info@honorflightsouthflorida.org
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Below and on the next few pages are words of thanks from the Veterans
and Guardians after their special Honor Flight day in Washington DC.
I was on the May 30th flight. I've sent this account of my day and trip to some local papers here in Broward and Dade Counties.

THE HONOR FLIGHT...it didn't exist before May of 2005. 
Honor Flight was the brain child of Earl Morse, a retired Air Force Captain, who along with five other private aircraft owners flew twelve WWII veterans to visit the WWII memorial in Washington D.C.  Flying out of Springfield, Ohio, the Honor Flight grew to where it transitioned from small aircraft to commercial airlines. 

Well I was fortunate to be on the May 30th Honor Flight, the inaugural flight of the new Eastern Airlines, which took fifty-five WWII and five Korean Veterans and their Guardians to Washington D.C. to visit the WWII memorial, as well as the Korean War memorial.

It started at 0 dark 30, and we were to meet the bus at Edgewater Point Estates in Boca Raton that would take us to Miami International Airport where we would catch the flight to Washington’s Reagan International Airport.

Dorothy Greenberg a Navy veteran and I, an Army Veteran, both residents of Century Village in Deerfield Beach, Florida, drove to the rendezvous point and what a surprise awaited us upon our arrival.   A ten-motorcycle police escort from Broward County was there to escort our bus to the Dade County line where the Dade County police would take over and escort our bus all the way to the Miami International Airport.

We arrived at the Miami airport to a welcoming committee of Honor Flight South Florida Volunteers and to meet our Guardians, many who were from the local Miami fire departments.  Talk about being catered to.  These volunteers went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable and to look after whatever we needed.

Once on board the airplane and heading down the tarmac to take off, we passed two lines of fire trucks, one on each side of the airplane, their lights flashing, they saluted us with a water canon salute from their fire trucks. Quite an emotional moment for all of us, the Veterans on board.

The flight to Washington was smooth and gave everyone a chance to relax and get acquainted. Once we landed, and were taxing to the gate, another water cannon salute from the Fire crews at the airport.  As we got off the plane, we were greeted by crowds of people waving flags, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service.  There were actually some guys in the line kissing our lady veterans!  Now that’s a twist, it’s usually the other way around.

The day started to move quickly. We boarded our buses under clear blue skies and headed out to our first memorial, the Iwo Jima Marine Memorial.  Out of the bus and everyone got into position to take a group photo.  That was a sight to see, sixty veterans and sixty guardians lined up in front of the sculpture. Definitely drew a crowd of onlookers.

Next, we were also privileged to see the changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.  Talk about 'spit and polish', to me this was the epitome of it.  What a ceremony, which will live in my memory, it’s something one should see and to feel the pride these young soldiers display at being part of this beautiful ceremony.  It made me feel proud to be an American. 

Then we were back on the buses and on our way to the WWII memorial.  What a site.  What a Memorial. You have to see this Memorial, its size, the way it is designed and take it all in to really appreciate it.  Again, another emotional moment.

From there we moved on and walked to the Korean memorial, where statues of a squad of soldiers is depicted on patrol which evokes the experience of American ground troops in Korea.

Hard to believe, but the day went by so fast.  It was time to return to the buses, back to the airport to catch the flight back to Miami.  Where did all the time go?

Once on board and airborne, an announcement was made by Eastern airlines President Edward Wegel, who was on board with his wife Susan. He mentioned to us over the intercom that he knew that GI's always looked forward to a hot meal, and because of that, they were going to serve a hot meal to all of us. 

That brought back a very specific time.... It was November 1944, Thanksgiving to be precise; I was in Reims, France.  Headquarters was sending up a mobile kitchen to serve us Thanksgiving dinner.  We had been eating K rations, so, we were all looking forward to this hot meal.  And as fortune would have it, it was a rainy day and when the mobile kitchen arrived it became a downpour.  We were wearing our ponchos, the water was dripping off of our helmets, but as we entered under the kitchen overhang, it was dry.  We opened our mess kits and received turkey, mashed potatoes, a muffin, peaches in syrup and a ball of ice cream.   We couldn't wait to start eating, completely forgetting it was raining.  As we left the dry overhang of the kitchen, our mess kits immediately started to fill up with rain.  The gravy and the turkey began to float, the ice cream was floating in rain water.  We sat down on a rock and as we bent over to start eating, rain water from our helmets dripping into the mess kits adding to our "floating Thanksgiving dinner".   Truth be told, it didn't matter, we ate it all with relish. So, when they announced a hot meal was to be served on board the airplane, I ate this one with the same enthusiastic relish that I did that Thanksgiving Day in Reims, France.

To add to the reality of the day, The Honor Flight South Florida Staff then announced it was time for "mail call".  Every one of the Veterans, all of us, received a packet of mail, some from school children, some from the airport personnel and in my case, I received a lot of mail from my friends and relatives.  It seems my daughter wrote to everyone and told them about my being on the Honor Flight and would they please write a note to me.  She explained to them it would be delivered to us aboard the plane on the way back,…which would be something like what we received in the field,…. mail call.  Again, a nice surprise.

As would happen on a 'regular' flight, the flight attendant announced our approach to Miami International Airport and that we would be landing shortly.

After touch down, we taxied to our gate.  I happened to be seated up front and was one of the first off of the plane and as I got to the waiting area, another surprise....we were greeted by a couple of Senators and Congressmen and what I thought were hundreds of people.  I later found out that there were about three thousand people welcoming us home and once again, there was a lot of handshaking and many 'thank you's for your service' and like you would see in the movies, some of the ladies would come over and kiss us on the cheek. 

It felt like we were conquering heroes.  There were even bag pipers playing and welcoming us home.  I was thinking to myself what a great day this was, as my guardian kept pushing me through the receiving line of all these people.  The line just went on for what seemed like forever.  Then suddenly, in front of me, there was this young lady wearing a flight jacket, with a pair of wings and Captain’s bars on her shoulders.  She was saluting me.  For a few moments I was stunned.  She looked very familiar and it finally 'clicked',… it was my daughter, a former Air Force flight instructor.  I jumped out of the wheelchair and hugged her and started to cry.  I couldn't believe she had flown in from Texas and managed to get four friends of mine to join her to greet me at the airport.

Writing this story and remembering that moment.  Well, it is making my eyes well up in tears again.  What an unbelievable day.

FDR said after the attack on Pearl Harbor, "This day will live in Infamy".

So this day too will live forever for me, but not in infamy.  It was one of the best days of my life.

Sid Birns - World War II Veteran

Dear Honor Flight Volunteers;

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in the Honor Flight. The program gave us the opportunity to see the monuments of World War II and other wars. Most of all, the way we were greeted when we returned from Washington was a welcome the was very special, and very different from the welcome I received when I returned home after World War II.

I told my daughter that the welcome I received made me feel as as important as General Dwight Eisenhower.

I would like to thank the volunteers from Honor Flight who planned this trip and events and gave me memory I will never forget.

I am very grategul.

Irv - World War II Veteran