Monroe veterans take their Honor Flight

9:15 a.m. Friday, April 25, 2014 Community News

Two Monroe residents who served in the Army during the Korean War era will be among 33 other veterans on today’sHonor Flight to visit various war memorials in Washington, D.C.

Dale Gibbs and Rodney McGuire, both 83, said they were excited about going to Washington to see the Korean War and the World War II memorials as neither had ever been to the nation’s capital.

“I probably know some names on the wall,” Gibbs said.

“The veterans at VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Post 3809 in Middletown who have been there said we had to go see it,” McGuire said.

Gibb said it took about a month to get a response after they sent in their applications, which they got at a local veterans’ breakfast.

The veterans were told to arrive at 3:30 a.m. at the Dayton International Airport and the flight would be depart at 6:10 a.m. The Southwest Airlines flight will head to the Baltimore-Washington International Airport where they will board a bus to Washington. Among the stops the veterans will visit include the World War II Memorial, Tomb of the Unknowns to watch the changing of the guard, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial and Vietnam War Memorial. The bus will also pass the Pentagon, Air Force Memorial and Marine Corps War Memorial with the statue of the Marines raising the flag over the island of Iwo Jima during World War II.

The veterans are scheduled to return to Dayton about 11 p.m..

McGuire said the opportunity is “extraordinary.”

“It’s going to be a wonderful trip,” McGuire said. “If a veteran has the opportunity to go, they should go.”

Gibbs said the opportunity to participate is “fantastic.”

“It’s an opportunity that presented itself that I couldn’t do on my own,” he said. “I’m proud I was able to serve.”

Larry Blackmore, a guardian and a board member of Honor Flight Dayton, said today’s flight includes 11 World War II, 22 Korean War Era and two Vietnam War veterans.

Blackmore said the Dayton organization is part of the national Honor Flight program that is funded by donations and other contributions. He said the organization does not receive any federal funding.

Honor Flight Dayton sponsors about eight to 10 trips to Washington, D.C., with about 35 veterans each from April through early November. Blackmore said the trip in October will have 80 to 100 area veterans. The program started in May 2005 and was designed to take World War II veterans to visit the World War II Memorial, which had just opened, he said.

“Some veterans don’t know they are eligible because they didn’t serve overseas or in combat and don’t want to take someone else’s place,” Blackmore said. “If they served on active duty during the time frames designated by the Defense Department for those wars, they’re eligible.”

Blackmore said each veteran has a guardian to assist them in getting around on each trip.

“I’ve found something that’s a very unique thing to do and it’s been very satisfying for me,” he said.