WWII Veterans head to D.C. on Honor Flight - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

WWII Veterans head to D.C. on Honor Flight

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Honor Flight veterans - photo by Josh Lippold Honor Flight veterans - photo by Josh Lippold

A group of central Texas World War II veterans is in the nation's capital. They flew out of ABIA Tuesday afternoon to take part in a special tour.

There were handshakes and hugs from the moment the WWII veterans entered the airport. One last mission for 50 heroes time may have robbed them of their youth but not their legacy. Some won medals, most lost friends.

For Emmett Menefee, who marched through the Pacific as an army private, this trip is an unexpected gift.

"Oh it's great I never once thought I'd be going on flight like this," said Menefee

The group is following the path of the 25 who made the first Honor Flight trip to D.C. It was an all-male tour of the WWII Memorial this past June.

Tuesday 93 year old Isabelle Cook and 90 year old Millie King Evans became the first women on the Austin flight. Both were nurses during the war.

"Frankly I volunteered, I was single and I felt that the other soldiers didn't have a choice they were drafted. If they were overseas and they were wounded I with my experience as a nurse I should be there to care for them.

From North Africa into Europe cook mended the wounded and comforted the dying.

"And that has always stuck with me, the fact they were too young to die," said Cook.

"It was hard, I spent many times talking to patients and then going into the bathroom and crying," Said Evans.

Evans cared for returning POWs and admits with a smile there was a selfish reason to signing up.

"That's where the boys were, and I got a husband out of it," Laughed Evans.

Martin Kanter is 87-years-young. He's seen the memorial once before that's dedicated to his former shipmates who didn't make it home from war, but a trip like this, he says is an honor.

"When I got the call I was so excited I almost went through the phone," explained the former Navy Gunner. Kanter's bag has been packed for almost a month.

"The one thing I did early on when I was in the Navy is I always had clothes and everything packed in case I got leave. The minute I got the call I wrote everything I needed down and two days later my bag was packed."

Kanter served on three different ships during his war time service. He even met his sweetheart of 63 years while serving the red, white and blue.

"I'm a patriot. I love America. I would do it again if they called me up today. Now, they wouldn't get an 18-year-old but if there's something I can do I'd be more than happy to do it," Kanter said proudly of his service.

It is that sense of service and sacrifice that the Honor Flight organization wants to recognize before it's too late. The non-profit's sole mission is to take World War II Veterans to see their memorial.

"We take our job of taking the veterans to see the memorial in D.C. very seriously," explained Christie Johnson with Honor Flight Austin. "We don't want them to worry about anything so we take care of flights, hotel rooms and all of their food."

Kanter will cherish his boarding pass for the second honor flight to ever leave Austin. The first left back in June with 25 Veterans. It was such a success the second trip doubled in size.

It will be an emotional trip but one Kanter will cherish.

"I'll visit a place where my shipmates didn't come home and I'll say a few words about them," he said. "This trip means the world to me."

Honor Flight Austin is planning a third trip in the spring. It costs around $1000 for each Veteran to take the trip. If you'd like to donate or get more information www.honorflightaustin.org

It's estimated there are only 500 WWII veterans still alive in central Texas. For team leaders there is a sense of urgency. The oldest on this trip is 94.

The veterans will be honored with a welcome home ceremony in the baggage claim area on Wednesday night when they come home. The ceremony is open to anyone who wants to show their support. It starts at 7:30 p.m.

LINK: Honor Flight Austin

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