A trio of Denton World War II veterans are being treated to a trip to Washington, D.C., as an honor to them for their service to their country.
The veterans — Dick Kendall, John Smith and Stan Baugh — are taking the trip courtesy of Honor Flight DFW, a nonprofit organization created to honor America’s veterans living in the North Texas area for their service and sacrifices.
“It’s going to be a very busy two days,” Kendall said, who, along with the other men, lives at Dogwood Estates.
The trip begins with a celebratory breakfast, presentation of the colors, bands playing and volunteers cheering and waving flags. The men and women who constitute the veteran group wear their signature blue Honor Flight jackets and hats.
The first stop on the journey is the National World War II Memorial, which opened in 2004, when the youngest of the World War II veterans were in their late 70s. The next stop for the veterans is Arlington National Cemetery, and a visit to the graveside of the America’s most decorated World War II solider, fellow Texan Audie Murphy, concludes the tour for the day.
The Denton veterans have each been to Washington before, but long before the memorial was built.
They each have someone accompanying them on the trip. Kendall is bringing his son, while Baugh’s daughter will be with him.
“When you get to be 88 years old, you have a problem with memory sometimes,” Baugh said.
“She knows my medications and all that, she kind of looks after me, and I think she will enjoy the trip.”
Smith is taking Lee Ferris, maintenance director at Dogwood Estates and a veteran himself.
“I think he’s as ready to go as I am,” Smith said.
Ferris said the trip is more of an honor for himself to go with the guys than anything.
“It’s a terrific honor to do it, always had a heart for the WWII generation. To be asked to do it, it’s beyond words,” Ferris said. “The WWII generation is not going to be around much longer. We need to get these guys there and honor them and let them see the memorial and one last salute for the veterans.”
Ferris said he has sat down with the men over lunch and talked about the war and things he read about and watched on the History Channel.
“We had good conversation about the war,” he said.
“I told him about how I won it,” Smith joked.
Baugh said it’s an honor for the veterans.
“There’s quite a few things I have enjoyed, being a veteran,” he said.
“We’re the fortunate ones to stay alive. So many lost their lives,” Kendall added.
Honor Flight DFW has made seven flights to the nation’s capital so far with more planned.
Every donation given to the organization goes directly toward the group’s goal of taking veterans to Washington, D.C. The $1,000 cost pays for the veteran’s plane fare, hotel accommodations, chartered bus fare, meals, uniforms, souvenir videos and a reunion event after their return.
Veterans are not permitted to pay for anything themselves.
The organization is always looking for more help, both in identifing local veterans who would like to make the trip and to get more directly involved in fundraising and accompanying veterans.
More information about how to donate, how to submit veterans’ names and how to get involved can be found on the Honor Flight DFW website at www.HonorFlightDFW.org.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.