Flight of Honor Winners Return to Celebration
Last month, a group of North Carolina World War II veterans participated in a Flight of Honor trip to Washington, D.C.
Ten of the veterans were Moore County residents whose trip had been sponsored by First Bank.
Triangle Flight of Honor, a nonprofit organization, annually honors World War II veterans with free trips to Washington, D.C., which include a charter flight to the capital and visits to the World War II, Lincoln, Vietnam, Korean and Air Force memorials.
First Bank selected the 10 veterans it sponsored through a drawing held in February at the bank's Southern Pines branch.
The veterans returned home to a heroes' welcome party at Raleigh Durham International Airport, which featured refreshments, red, white and blue decorations, American flags and patriotic music by the Cary Town Band.
Family members, friends and spectators lined three levels of the atrium to welcome the WWII veterans home. The North Carolina National Color Guard and a bagpipe procession led the veterans to the celebration.
"I've been waiting to see the World War II Memorial since it was built," said Pauline Bethea, a former Army Air Corp nurse and one of the veterans sponsored through First Bank's donation. "I think it is tremendous that First Bank sponsored us. It's an experience that I will long remember."
Emerson Cole, a former Navy skipper who attended the Flight of Honor, said, "It was the thrill of a lifetime. It just couldn't have been better."
Cole said his favorite thing about the trip was the in-flight mail call, for which Flight of Honor volunteers collected letters from veterans' family members and from schoolchildren in their community.
"The one thing we all loved and looked forward to overseas was mail call," Cole said.
"I loved it," said Donald Field, a Navy veteran who made the trip with his wife, Andree. She also served in the Navy. "It was fantastic. When we got off the plane, there were hundreds of people waving flags. I never saw anything like it in my life."
Other Moore County veterans who attended the Flight of Honor were Dorothy Lockwood, Jack Dauner, Ed King, Edd Clay, Ed Conklin, Ted Phillips, John Maness, Lee Maness and Rufus Livingston.
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