Governor Scott Welcomes Honor Flight WWII Veterans Home

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April 27, 2014
Emily Johnson

77 World War Two Veterans traveled back to Tallahassee after a long day of sight seeing in Washington D.C.

The group was filled with WWII Veterans from all branches of the military. Richard Wassall was among the Vets on the trip who served in the United States Air Force in the 115TH Liaison Sqd..

"It was thrilling absolutely momentous. I had no idea we'd get a welcome like this from thousands of people that all have the same mind that are waking up to the fact that something happen 70 some years ago. Namely a couple of World Wars and now we're celebrating what we did there," said Wassall.

When we asked him about the warm welcome home from D.C. this is what he said, "as we landed we could see you know the hanger all lite up and so forth, wow...who's here the Governor uh and a few others. Well I'm not that important, but they made me feel that important."

As Wassall mentioned Governor Scott was there to welcome the WWII Veterans home.

"When I came here I thought about my dad. I tried to get him to go back to Europe where he fought and he would never do it. I tried to get him to go to D.C. and he would never do it. It's great for these Veterans and it's great to honor them today with this flight. I had the opportunity to give them all a Governor's Service Medal tonight and your heart goes out to them because they defended our freedom," said Governor Scott.

April 25, 2014
Julie Montanaro

Six dozen World War Two vets must report for duty by 0-500 hours tomorrow morning.

The men -mostly in their 90's - will be boarding a plane bound for the Nation's Capital to see the World War Two Memorial and much more all free of charge.

These World War Two veterans from the Big Bend had a chance to see the World War Two memorial for themselves.

That flight touched down last May and the next one will touch down tomorrow.

93 year old Paul Andrews - a former Army Air Corps pilot - will be one of the men with a seat on the plane.

"I can't even express the gratefulness that I have for getting the opportunity to do this," Andrews said, "so i'm going to be enjoying every minute of it."

Andrews and fellow veteran Grady Turnage are among 77 World War Two vets who will fly to Washington DC Saturday for a whirlwind monument tour courtesy of Honor Flight.

It's a flying thank you for veterans and a chance for them to see their namesake memorial while they still can.

"When did I join the army?" Grady Turnage asked with a laugh. "The Army joined me, honey, in October 1941."

Grady Turnage - from Chattahoochee - went to anti-aircraft artillery school and fought on French, Belgian and German soil. He even shook the hand of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

"We got that there just as the battle of the bulge broke loose," Turnage said.

Paul Andrews flew 59 missions in the South Pacific. One of them was with his childhood hero Charles Lindbergh.

"Lindbergh was up in one of those (planes providing cover) training the other pilots to go long distance," Andrew said.

The men have both been to Washington DC before but neither has seen the World War II Memorial. And that's just the first stop. They'll visit the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, Iwo Jima and Arlington National Cemetery before returning to Tallahassee Saturday night.

"That's a great way to say thank you, huh?"

"Mm hmm, that's one way to say thank you...that's what it is," Turnage said.

The V-A says World War Two veterans are dying at the rate of approximately 555 a day so Honor Flight could truly be the trip of a lifetime.

We'll have more coverage of Honor Flight tomorrow - our cameras will be rolling at the airport when the men return.

A group of Northern Florida and Southern Georgia veterans will soon get the experience of a lifetime.

Honor Flight Tallahassee will take 77 World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington D.C. on April 26th to see the World War II Memorial.

It's the second year the organization is hosting the day long trip.

The veterans will leave Tallahassee at 7am on a Miami Air flight with guardians, doctors and paramedics.

An organizer of the event says the trip is great to be a part of.

"The thing is, the World War II Memorial was only completed in 2004 so most WWII veterans have never seen the memorial that was built for them. So it's a wonderful experience," Mac Kemp, Honor Flight Tallahassee Chairman said.

The trip costs $96,000.

Honor Flight Tallahassee relies on the community for donations.

The flight will land at 9:40pm at the Honda hanger at Flightline next to the Tallahassee Regional Airport.

Everyone is invited to meet there for a 'Heroes Welcome' ceremony.

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