It was one of the most memorable days of their already memorable lives.
That’s what World War II and Korean War veterans said about their Sept. 21 Honor Flight to Washington, which was sponsored by Grayson RECC and Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.
For the third consecutive year, Grayson RECC and other Kentucky electric cooperatives joined with the Bluegrass Chapter of the Honor Flight Network to take veterans, free of charge, to visit the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Iwo Jima Monument.
Twenty-five veterans participated in this year’s journey. Grayson RECC sponsored a local veteran. Thomas Stevens, Jr. from Morehead who served in the Army during Korean War represented Grayson Rural Electric.
As the veterans arrived at the Louisville International Airport early Saturday morning, they were greeted by the warm smiles of electric co-op volunteers and other residents.
Immediately upon their arrival at Baltimore International Airport, they received a heroes’ welcome from another crowd of well-wishers and soldiers who drove from Fort Gordon in Georgia and Fort Meade in Maryland to thank them for their service. The veterans then traveled from Baltimore to Washington aboard a chartered bus, while a police escort cleared the way through heavy traffic and took them to the World War II Memorial.
The response of other Washington. visitors who saw the vets was overwhelming as hundreds of people stopped to shake their hands, request photos and say “thank you for your service.”
On the return flight to Louisville, the veterans were treated to a bit of nostalgia, as they experienced “mail call,” just as they had when they were young servicemen far from home. Friends, family, school children, electric co-op employees, church groups and many others wrote letters and sent cards the veterans will never forget.
At the end of Saturday’s trip, hundreds of family, co-op employees and Americans waved flags and greeted the veterans after they landed in Louisville.
Robert Williams, a Navy veteran who served in the South Pacific, said the entire day was unforgettable. “All this has meant so much to me,” said Williams, 90, who lives in Monticello. “I can’t get over how good people have been to us. This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
“Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives would like to take this opportunity to thank every veteran who has served this great country,” said Carol Fraley, president and CEO. “We owe you so much. May God bless each and every one of you.”