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Final Gulf Coast Honor Flight Takes 70 Veterans to Washington

By Evelina Burnett | Published 05 Nov 2013 11:34pm | comments
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight homecoming.
Close to 600 veterans have been to Washington on seven Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor flights. MPB’s Evelina Burnett was there when the final flight touched down in Gulfport last night.

A large crowd cheers as 70 World War II veterans return to the Gulfport-Biloxi airport at the end of their one-day trip to Washington D.C. on the seventh and final Gulf Coast Honor Flight.

Air Force veteran Bill Rothermel says he particularly enjoyed seeing the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery.

The World War 2 Memorial was a highlight too.

"It was really wonderful. I loved it. It was great," he said.

Rothermel is one of 592 veterans who have participated in the Gulf Coast Honor Flights since they began in May 2011.

Mark Walton is a board member of the Gulf Coast Honor Flight organization. He says they wanted to thank those who served in World War II while they still could.

"These veterans were never properly thanked when they came home from the war," Walton said. "You see the D-Day celebration in Times Square: that was just a handful of them, literally. Most of them just came home -- they didn't have any proper greeting or homecoming. And they deserve more."

Navy veteran Eugene Johnson says this return home – hundreds of people, clapping, waving flags and holding up signs of welcome, bands playing, active duty military standing at attention all along the long corridors of the airports – was nothing like his return home from World War II.

The Veterans Administration says just 1.7 million of the 16 million Americans who served in World War 2 are still alive today.

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The Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight homecoming.


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