WASHINGTON/ FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Tuesday morning, 80 veterans took off from the 122nd Fighter Wing to travel to Washington D.C. as part of the Northeast Indiana Honor Flight.
Before taking off at 8:30 a.m., the veterans were treated to a military style breakfast. Known to them as a “sauté on a shingle,” the vets were treated to scrambled eggs, a piece of ham and white toast smothered in gravy. The vets were also treated to coffee, donuts and juice.
After arriving in Baltimore, the group of 80 was split into three different buses: red, white and blue. The first stop for the group was the World War II Memorial, a memorial that was opened to the public in 2004 after sitting idly for years embroiled in controversy over its location.
Carl Shoudel, a World War II and Korean War veteran who allowed Indiana’s NewsCenter to tell his story Monday night before the flight, said he would be emotional upon seeing the memorial. When the buses arrived, Shoudel was in awe. He says the memorial is for every American.
"It's a tribute to everybody and not to just one person. It's a tribute to the entire country. It’s more than what I thought it would be."
Arthur Howard, another World War II veteran, agrees.
"It's just a wonderful thing. We should cherish our National Capital because it is such a special day."
The vets were given a special treat Tuesday morning at the World War II Memorial when Retired Brigadier General and Fort Wayne Native David Brubaker paid them a visit. He says he feels like a rock star when he gets to meet with fellow veterans because they get to joke with a Brigadier General, something these vets cannot do everyday. Brubaker says the memorial is beautiful tribute to America’s Greatest Generation. He also says its placement in the National Mall is long overdue.
"It was long overdue and I tell you, this is my favorite; getting to meet and touch and share stories with those that really gave it all, the Greatest Generation."
After touring the World War II Memorial, the vets split into their respective buses for a boxed lunch bus tour of downtown Washington that included the Pentagon, Air Force Monument, a beautiful view of the Potomac River and a stop at the Women’s War Memorial.
It was at the Women’s War Memorial that five of the 80 veterans got a chance to shine. Five female veterans were part of the Honor Flight. One of those was Evelyn Brown who served as a member of the Coast Guard. For Brown, Pearl Harbor was perhaps the most defining moment in her life.
“To serve my country was a privilege, an honor.”
Brown went to Chicago to join the Navy in the days following the attacks on Pearl Harbor. She was told the Navy was full and was advised to try the Coast Guard. She did, and she loved it. After being sworn in on her birthday, Brown started serving eight days later.
Like Shoudel and Howard, Brown was in awe at the World War II Memorial.
“Oh my, it’s so emotional. It’s so impressive and such a tribute, a lovely tribute.”
And it was the Women’s War Memorial that the day seemed to come full circle for Brown. It was at the registry that she discovered her file and detailed service, a moment of undeniable joy for someone who truly believes she is part of the Greatest Generation.
“I think I lived through the best years. I really feel that way. Patriotism was stronger than ever after Pearl Harbor. I remember that Sunday well. People thank me for serving, but I’m so glad I did.”
The Women’s War Memorial sits parallel to the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. It was at Arlington that the Northeast Indiana Honor Flight met with an Honor Flight group from Kansas. Together, they toured the cemetery, viewed the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and witnessed a truly historic practice: the changing of the color guard.
After a couple of hours at Arlington, the Northeast Indiana Honor Flight headed back to Baltimore, boarded their plane and landed home in Fort Wayne just after 10:00 p.m. They were greeted by friends and family waving signs and flags in honor of the Greatest Generation.
-To see more from the Honor Flight, check out the photo gallery.
-If you want more information on the Honor Flight, click the link “Honor Flight.”
-To see the preview to this story with Carl Shoudel, check out the related content.
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