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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • World War II veterans honored with D.C. trip

  • When American servicemen returned home from World War II, they went back to work without any fanfare, recalls Al Herrig.
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    • Heartland Honor Flight

      Several local World War II veterans recently traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of the Heartland Honor Flight program.


      Heartl...

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      Heartland Honor Flight

      Several local World War II veterans recently traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of the Heartland Honor Flight program.



      Heartland Honor Flight is a non-profit organization that gives veterans an opportunity to travel to the nation's capital to see the memorials erected in their honor.



      More information about the organization can be found at heartlandhonorflight.org.

  • When American servicemen returned home from World War II, they went back to work without any fanfare, recalls Al Herrig.
    "There was no party for us," he said.
    But, Herrig and other World War II veterans received a different reception when they returned from a recent trip to Washington, D.C.
    When they arrived at Kansas City International Airport, they were greeted by hundreds of people. There even were a couple of bands.
    "Everybody wanted to shake your hand," Kenny Thompson said. "It was really impressive."
    Herrig and Thompson, who are both from the Leavenworth area, were among the veterans who traveled to the nation's capital Tuesday as part of the Heartland Honor Flight program.
    The non-profit program provides veterans free trips to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II Memorial and other attractions.
    "It was all free," Herrig said. "They honor you."
    Herrig, 89, and Thompson, 88, made the trip with another Leavenworth veteran, Larry Page, 92. The three men belong to a group that meets Monday mornings for coffee. A friend from the coffee group talked the three veterans into taking the trip.
    "They called us the three musketeers," Thompson said.
    Herrig and Thompson served in the Navy during World War II. Page served in the Army Air Corps.
    More than 100 people took the chartered flight to Washington, D.C.
    Herrig said the group included veterans from other states such as Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois.
    There was at least one other Leavenworth resident, Lydon Drury, who made the trip.
    "It's an amazing gift," Drury said.
    Drury, 90, served in the Army during World II.
    The veterans spent only the one day in Washington, D.C., but Herrig said it was a full day.
    They didn't return to Kansas City International Airport until late Tuesday night.
    "You got to see everything that you wanted, everything that you could handle," Page said.
    He said visiting Washington, D.C., is worthwhile.
    "It's beautiful," he said.
    Drury said the government buildings and monuments were gorgeous.
    "Even the grass and the concrete roads were immaculate," he said.
    The veterans toured Washington, D.C., in buses. They were accompanied by chaperones, or guardians.
    "They just treated us as part of the family," Page said.
    Herrig said the buses were provided with police escorts as they moved through Washington, D.C.
    As they were returning to Kansas City, Mo., the veterans were provided with packages with letters written by school children as well as friends and loved ones.
    Page 2 of 2 - "I'm going to have to answer every one of those," Page said.

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