WWII veterans honored by free trip to memorial in Washington, D.C.

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By Donald Richie

Are you a World War II veteran? Have you seen the memorial to you in Washington D.C.?

Are you familiar with the organization Honor Flight?

If you are a WWII veteran, you’re eligible for a free, one-day trip to Washington D.C. to visit your memorial.

It is the mission of Honor Flight to honor as many of these ‘ordinary people who saved the world’ by providing  them with an organized and expense-paid trip to visit their memorial.

Local WWII veteran Charlie Tribble took advantage of the opportunity last month and came back in awe of the sprawling memorial.

“It’s stark, everything was white,” he said, noting he wants to go back when he can see the memorial at night. “4,000 stars [in memory of the 400,000 deaths] reflecting in the pool.”

Tribble made the trip on Sept. 10 with 39 other veterans and 15 guardians - people who volunteer to assist the vets. On the flight up, he was seated next to one of the members of the famous Flying Tigers.

“I had read about them, but to sit there and talk to him about how things were, that really was interesting,” he said. “Because there’s not many of them left.”

He said when the veterans disembarked their plane in Baltimore, they were met with applause from a group of waiting airline passengers.

“I got very teary-eyed as I compared it to receptions to our Vietnam veterans,” he said.

Tribble’s Honor Flight group got a special treat on their trip.

Sen. Bob Dole, a WWII hero, was at the memorial waiting on a group from his home state of Kansas. Tribble said Dole greeted the group and posed for pictures with them.

After about two hours at the memorial, the group boarded a bus and visited the Korean War memorial and the U.S. Marine Corps memorial which depicts the flag raising at Iwo Jima.

Interestingly, one of the men depicted on that statue is Franklin Sousley, a Fleming County native.

While in the D.C. area, Tribble was able to meet up with one of his old WWII shipmates, Bob Sharp.

“We were out of touch for 45 years, but got together 20 years ago when someone who knew us both got us together,” Tribble said.

When the group returned to Louisville in the early hours of the next morning, Tribble said they were once again greeted with cheers.

“A perfect ending to a perfect day,” he said.

In order to participate, you must file an application. Those are available through Tribble by calling 234-3115. They can be mailed to: Honor Flight, Bluegrass Chapter, P.O. Box 43986, Middletown, KY 40253-0986.

About Honor Flight:

The Honor Flight program was conceived by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Air Force captain, to honor veterans he has taken care of for the past 27 years.

After retiring from the Air Force in 1998, Morse was hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs to work in a small clinic in Springfield, Ohio. In May 2004, the World War II Memorial was completed and dedicated in