HonorAir Takes Our Vets To D.C.

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) -- More than a hundred East Tennessee veterans got the "thank you" on Saturday, they say they've been waiting for since World War Two.

112 veterans just got back from an "all-expense paid trip" to see the World War Two Memorial in Washington DC.

HonorAir Knoxville sponsored the trip.

"It's the trip of lifetime," said WWII Veteran John Llewellyn. "We waited a long time for this."

Llewellyn and 111 other East Tennessee World War Two veterans took the flight with HonorAir Knoxville.

"We're taking 112 World War Two veterans to D.C. today, predominantly to see the World War Two Memorial," said Eddie Mannis, Owner of Prestige Cleaners.

The veterans, the tickets, the flight and the memories were all free of charge.

"They deserve to see what was built for them in their honor and time is running out," Mannis said.

Veterans like Llewellyn says time's not given World War II veterans the thanks the thought they'd receive.

"When I pulled into port and got off the ship, people welcomed us home and that's about it," Llewellyn said.

"I wonder where they were 50 years ago when they came back," said WWII Veteran Charles Green.

When Llewellyn first saw the memorial built Saturday morning, it wasn't the war but the memories of past friends that came to mind.

"The majority of them I haven't seen or heard from since we came back from overseas,” he said. “I don't know if they ever came back or not."

But in the past, he found new friends among his fellow veterans.

"I enjoyed being with them,” Llewellyn said. “It's the moment I’ve been waiting for a long time."

Once the veterans got back to Knoxville, they each got a goodie bag.

Inside it was a baseball cap, a list of all the veterans on today's trip and a certificate to remember this exciting trip.

More than 100 family members, friends and patriotic Americans welcomed the veterans home with balloons, flags and countless words of gratitude.

"It's been that way everywhere we went," Llewellyn said.

Organizers say the Veterans deserved the day for what they did more than a half century ago.
"It's beyond words, what I can say," said Green.

As for the trip itself, many said it was one of the best they have ever taken.

"We enjoyed every minute of it," Llewellyn said.

HonorAir operates in ten states and has flown more than 1,100 veterans to see the memorial.

This entire trip cost about $65,000, paid for by Prestige Cleaners and other corporate and private sponsors.

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