Kansas Veterans Visit WWII Memorial

By: Cayle Thompson Email
By: Cayle Thompson Email

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Wednesday was a monumental day for dozens of Kansas World War Two veterans.

On Monday, KAKE News told you about a group of students at Clearwater High School preparing to take five area veterans to Washington, DC, this week.

They joined 45 other veterans from all across the state for an Honor Flight to visit the memorial built in remembrance of them and their fallen comrades in WWII.

Lawrence Bennet served in the Navy aboard the USS Midway during the war. The Conway Springs veteran saw the WWII Memorial for the first time Wednesday.

"A couple of people on this trip were in the infantry," Bennet says. "A few of them were on the beaches of Normandy... That was a rough situation."

For some of the veterans, memories of their time in the service would rather be forgotten.

"Many of them are using this as a closing of a chapter in their life," said trip organizer Angie Payne of Lyndon, Kansas. "For some, they never really talked about this when they came home."

Payne says the nation's veterans are living historians, with information more valuable than what many textbooks can convey.

"It's one thing reading it from a history book," said Clearwater High School student Lucas Frickey on Wednesday. "It's another thing hearing it from somebody who was actually there."

Helping students in their goal to bring the state's WWII veterans to Washington was the Honor Flight program. It aims to fly veterans from all across the country to the nation's capital, giving them an opportunity to visit the memorials built in their honor.

Senior veterans and those with a terminal illnesses receive priority. The Honor Flight organization flies veterans free of charge, and gives hundreds a chance to visit Washington every year.

For many, it may is the first - and last - time they get to visit.

For those like Bennet, to see the WWII Memorial just once is a blessing in itself.

"We're all from Kansas and we're all World War Two veterans," Bennet said. "The sponsors who are with us are all great people."

To learn more about the Honor Flight program, go to: www.honorflight.net

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