Honor Flight #22 brings generations of veterans together

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WANE) – The day started dark and early at the 122nd Fighter Wing.  The veterans on Honor Flight Northeast Indiana’s 22nd flight were served breakfast and helped on board their flight which had been decorated in a patriotic theme.  Before take-off they were treated to a special water cannon salute, which also greeted them upon landing at Regan. Then a police escort, who was with the group all day, drove them to the World War II memorial. Several of the veterans said the police escort was their favorite part of the day.

The World War 2 Memorial is where we caught up with Raymond Budrow Sr. and one of his sons, Bill. Ray Sr. served stateside working in communications during World War II.  He said about his time working in Key West, “on my desk there was a red telephone and the other end of it was the President’s desk in D.C.”  After that he became a minesweeper, looking for mines in the waters right off our own coastline.  “Rugged crew of the 1-1-2. That was our motto,” he told NewsChannel 15.  He also said there were mines in our waters at that time.

His son, Bill, was stationed in Germany during in the Vietnam era.  Bill was his father’s guardian Wednesday and had been to the World War II Memorial before. He wanted his dad to see it too, so he encouraged him to go on an Honor Flight. “I think it’s very nice that all the veterans are getting to come see it. And I think all veterans should see it,” said Bill. Ray Jr., one of four sons to serve in the military, was also on the flight serving as guardian for another veteran. His father remembers what the war was like for his son Ray, who served in Vietnam, saying, “his best friend was drafted I believe from school. And within a week he got killed.”

When asked if he joined the military because of his family, Bill said, “I feel you owe a debt to the country.”  After the World War II Memorial, the veterans had a driving tour of the capital and many of the area museums and smaller monuments.  The next stop was the Lincoln, Korean, and Vietnam Memorials, which are all clustered together.  The Korean Memorial is where brothers Joe and Jerry Westendorf stopped to reflect on their time in the service. “I was in munitions. And I was at, K11 was the site. It was on the, 45 miles northwest of Busan,” Jerry said.  “Then the cease fire went into effect. And I told my grand-kids as soon as I got over there the Koreans said we better surrender because Grandpa is nasty!”

His brother Joe served stateside painting aircraft during the Korean war era.  He was so grateful to Honor Flight for bringing him to see these beautiful memorials that it nearly left him speechless.  “It’s hard to comprehend. It’s never happened before. It just takes your breath away. It’s wonderful,” Joe said.  Through the rest of the day they saw Arlington National Cemetery with the Changing of the Guard and Laying of a Wreath ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown, the Marine Core Memorial also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, and the Air Force Memorial.

83 veterans serving in three wars were on Honor Flight Northeast Indiana’s 22nd flight.  Click here for more about Honor Flight Northeast Indiana.