POOLER, Ga. - “You know there is a saying that sunshine follows
rain, And sure enough you'll realize that joy will follow pain. Let
courage be your password, Make fortitude your guide; And then
instead of grousing, Just remember those who died.”
passage, from a poem titled “Can you take it?” written by an
anonymous source about World War II, underlines the esprit de corps
that unifies the veterans of World War II and the Korean War.
In an act of respect to those who gave so much, more than 50
Marines and sailors from the Tri-Command area gathered with the
legendary veterans to speak about military times over half a century
Service members line a pathway at the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard installation, in Pooler, Ga. to render salute to World War II and Korean War veterans prior to Honor Flight Savannah's departure for Washington D.C.
on September 6, 2013. The organization honors the veterans of World War II and the Korean War by providing a trip to Washington D.C., free to the veterans, to visit various war memorials in the area. More than 50 Marines and sailors from the Tri-command participated in the event to show their respect to the legendary veterans who served more than a half century ago. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Marcy Sanchez)
The service members spoke with the veterans prior to the
veterans' departure for Washington, D.C., as part of the
Honor Flight Network's initiative of getting as many WWII
and Korean War Veterans as possible to D.C.
to the Department of Defense, there was a combined 443,000
service members who were killed in action during World War
II and the Korean War, and a total of about 18 million
served during the two conflicts.
Washington, D.C., the veterans will visit the World War II
Memorial, a memorial built in 2004 that is a reminder of the
sacrifice, unity and service of a unique generation of
They will also visit the Korean War
Memorial, a memorial that honors the nation's sons and
daughters who answered the call to defend a country they
never knew and a people they never met.
veterans, from both South Carolina and Georgia to
[Washington D.C.] totally free to the veterans so they can
see all the memorials,” said retired Air Force Col. Ed
Wexler, chairman of Honor Flight Savannah.
from visiting the World War II and Korean War Memorials, the
group will also visit the Iwo Jima Memorial, Air Force
Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, and The Women in Military
Service for America Memorial.
“We expect to be met by
several general officers stationed at the Pentagon to talk
to our veterans and thank them for their service, it's a
full day,” said Wexler.
The trip, anticipated by 31
World War II and Korean War veterans, is an annual event
that Honor Flight has sponsored since 2005 when six small
planes flew 12 World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. The
following year the list expanded rapidly.
[World War II] memorial wasn't completed until 2004, about
60 years after the war was over,” said Wexler. “A lot of
those veterans have since passed away and as they're getting
up in age it's getting harder and harder for them to make
this trip up to Washington, so we want to get as many
veterans as we can to go see the memorial that was built in
One veteran making the journey
anticipates the tour with hopes of meeting up with some of
his war “buddies.”
“Like everyone, I hated to go but
I had a lot of company,” said George Hunt. “When I got
there, there was a job to do. You got used to it like going
The 87-year-old World War II veteran
remembers his tour well, having served on the frontlines
from 1944 – 1946 with the U.S. Army's 75th Division as an
“I was over there for two years; I was
all over Europe,” said Hunt. “Two hectic years,” he added as
he glazed over the fellow veterans who will join him on the
The 75th Division was involved in multiple
battles of World War II near the end of the war when Germany
surrendered to the Allies, to include the Battle of the
Bulge at Bastogne, Belgium.
“When the Germans made
that last push in 1944, in the winter ... it was pretty
rough,” said Hunt. “The Germans were circled, full army, and
then the weather cleared, the planes started to drive them
out. We were kicked around a bit.”
During his tour,
Hunt lost half a finger to enemy fire and gained some scars
that still remind him of the world's largest battle.
“I got wounded before making it to Berlin,” said Hunt as he
started feeling around for wounds. “I lost part of my
finger, got some scars.”
For his wounds during
battle, Hunt was awarded the Purple Heart. He was later
awarded a Bronze Star with valor for actions in combat.
Hunt, now a widower and father of four, is one of many
with similar stories making the trip to Washington.
“It's a humbling experience,” said Lance Cpl. Kahal Lattin,
a ground support equipment electrician with Marine Aviation
Logistics Squadron 31. “Down the road when you're an Iraq or
Afghanistan veteran their age, you're going to be the one
walking down aisles with everyone saluting you, it's
According to Lattin, while in formation
saluting the veterans as they prepared to board, a veteran
was passing by and mentioned the event was the most honored
he had ever been in his life.
“To be a part of that,
for guys who have done so much more than what most have done
at the Air Station and in today's Marine Corps, for a guy
shot down in  to say that this was the most honored
he'd been in his life, it's a pretty big experience,” said
Lattin, a 19-year-old native of San Diego.
veterans boarded buses to transport them to the airport,
U.S. flags lined the pathway along with service members who
rendered salutes to the 31 men and women who served our
country more than 60 years ago. The group is just a small
portion of the 18 million that served during the two wars,
but are nonetheless respected for their courage and
“We're going to have a great time,” said
Wexler. “We owe it to these veterans of World War II and
By USMC Sgt. Marcy Sanchez
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