ST. LOUIS – A very special honor flight left from Lambert St. Louis International Airport early Tuesday morning en route to Washington, D.C.
The flight is taking dozens of veterans to visit war memorials is also commemorating the 79th anniversary Tuesday of the D-Day Invasion in Normandy, France. The flight left at 5:00 a.m. for the nation’s capital.
65 veterans were on board, 62 Vietnam veterans, and three veterans from World War II.
The group will visit the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam War Memoria, and the Marine Corps Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Statue.
Among those on the trip is 101-year-old Ralph Goldsticker. He was a B-17 bombardier on D-Day and was in the air for 14 hours on that fateful day. In fact, Ralph flew his first combat mission on D-Day.
All these years later, Ralph still has the pin that he pulled out to arm the very first bomb that he dropped from his B-17.
“You say we saved the world – maybe we did.” Goldsticker said. “But we aren’t the heroes, you may just say to me that we did our job. There were 16 million that served in World War II, and we all did our job,” explained Ralph.
In addition to Ralph, FOX 2 also met Susan Garrett and Bob Windish, Sr. Tuesday morning before they left.
They are brother and sister and both served in Vietnam. Susan was a nurse and Bob was in an artillery division.
“Every name on that wall is someone’s relative, and I felt that very much when our wounded came in that some family was going to be notified either someone was wounded or had died,” Susan said.
Bob added, “The message is as a veteran speaking for all these guys thank you very much for honoring their service and remembering what we did. We appreciate that.”
FOX 2 also spent time before the flight left with the Gibson brothers.
The three brothers all served in Vietnam and are all going together to see the memorial.
“It’s just amazing,” LeRoy Gibson shared. “We get to go see the monuments that were built for us, for what we’ve done along with thousands and thousands of others alive and dead. It’s our chance to go see these monuments that they built on our behalf. And so it’s really a special day. Our families are all excited and supportive.”
After a full day in DC, the group should arrive back around at Lambert around 8:00 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.
We’re told they will get a rousing welcome home from, among others, Louie and the Blue Crew from the Blues!