Veterans on Honor Flight Visit National World War II Memorial In Washington

National World War II Memorial, Washington D.C.  <a href=>Photo Credit</a>
National World War II Memorial, Washington D.C. Photo Credit

Of the 16 million American women and men who served in the Second World War, only 600,000 remained. On average, 400 American World War II veterans die daily.

They are living witnesses to the pain and triumphs of World War II.

Approximately two dozen traveled to the Greater Peoria Honor Flight on the 4th, this month, to explore the memorial, pay respect to those who’ve preceded them, and relate their stories before all we know of them is found mostly in books of history.

Of their full crew of enlisted men none were older than 17-years-old at the time, said WWII Navy Veteran, Bill Tortat.

At hardly 18-years-old, World War II veterans witnessed an aspect of humanity that many will never see, leaving them with life-long memories that don’t disappear.

They were producing blue dye, bed rolls, and life jackets recalled WWII Army Veteran, Wanda Powell.

Martin Henard not only attended the Nuremberg trials but also saw the hanging of many of Hitler’s top military men.  He also remembers allowing famished children to eat from his hands separated by a fence, the consequence of a country ripped apart by conflict.

They were hungry, they didn’t cause the war, Henard explained.

In the place of lost friends lost to war, many are now gold stars on a wall.

He knows exactly what they mean.  Every one of those stars signifies someone that died, said WWII veteran Matthew Cannella, reported.

That memorial gives him goose bumps, said WWII Navy Veteran, Vernon “Blackie” Black.

The veterans feel great pride taking a picture and taking in the sights of their war monument, a witness to their service for the freedoms Americans have.

This is finishing his army career, right there.  Seeing everything he did was for the American people no matter the cost to him, explained WWII Army Veteran, William “Lyle” McGrann.

The oldest World War II veteran on the trip is age 97.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE