(WBIR) More than 100 veterans are on their way to Washington D.C. to tour memorials built in their honor for the first time.
This is the 16th trip HonorAir Knoxville has organized as a thank you to the men who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms. For the veterans, one of the best parts of the day is the hero's welcome home to Knoxville. They land at 8 p.m. today in McGhee Tyson, and HonorAir hopes to fill the lobby with people and give these heroes the warm welcome they deserve.
Sixteen million Americans served in World War II, and today there's only three million left. Every day we lose about 1,200 World War II veterans, according to HonorAir Knoxville's website. In another five to 10 years, almost all World War II veterans will have passed away. Sadly, this trip to D.C. could be the last time they'll get to see memorials engraved with the names of family and friends killed during war.
For one Korean vet, Gorman Bolling of Morristown, this will be an emotional trip. He traveled to D.C. with the army 67 years ago but has never had the opportunity to go back.
"In Korea, I had a lot of people lost. My brother-in-law, my best friend. . . I want to see their name on the wall," said Bolling. That's what I want to see."
HonorAir Knoxville says these trips are the least we could do for the "greatest generation" of Americans who ensured our freedoms more than 60 years ago. So far the non-profit has flown more than 2,000 veterans to see memorials in D.C. for free. Each trip costs about $500 per veteran. The organization says not a dollar from donations goes to administrative expenses, which are paid by Prestige Cleaners. Every single dollar donated is applied directly to the cost of trips.
Click on the link for ways to donate and more information about HonorAir: http://bit.ly/1h3bPKJ