Whether they were Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine, our
nation's soldiers, regardless of rank, are the foundation of our
freedom. The Honor Flight program gives these men and women the
opportunity to feel appreciated and respected for all they
witnessed, experienced and sacrificed for this country.
members of the group for this trip was Lincolnite Ivan Ray. Ray was
asked to record the experience from his point of view and share it
with local media.
Below is his account of the trip.
What a fantastic
tribute to all the men and women that were asked to serve or
volunteered to serve to protect our Homeland and all of our Freedom.
There were 88 on our flight; 24 World War II and 64 Korean War era;
invited to go to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials of our
country's various conflicts.
We left Abraham
Lincoln's Capitol Airport at 6:15am CST and arrived at Reagan
Memorial Airport at 9:00am CST. We then boarded buses to travel to
the WWII Memorial for a group photo and flag ceremony. At the
ceremony I asked for a prayer by name for Walter Ray, my third
cousin. He was a pilot who died in a jet crash. He was a member of
my graduating class of 1951 at Havana Community High School. Maroon
and White. Fight! Fight!
We proceeded to the
Korean Memorial which commemorates the era when I served as a
lieutenant in the artillery as a forward observer to call in
artillery support for the infantry up front in the battles. I held
my copy of the Democrat by the stainless steel statues of a forward
observer. For being such a tall statue (7' 4"), it looked quite
real! Next were the Vietnam and Lincoln Memorials. I took the
Courier with me to hold up for a picture. It was time to have lunch,
furnished by Subway Sandwich. Our breakfast had been provided by
Burger King. We then went on to visit the Air and Space Museum at
the Dulles Airport. We ate our lunch on this 45 minute ride.
We traveled back to
visit Iwo Jima (the movie Sons of Iwo Jima with John Wayne), the
raising of the flag on the hill. There were 7000 killed in that
battle. There were five Marines and one medic raising the flag;
however, there was one extra hand on the flag pole. They said it was
the Hand of God. After that it was time to proceed to visit the Air
Force Memorial. The memorial was so tall that it was difficult to
While I was
stationed in Augsburg, Germany with the 5th Infantry Division, I was
executive officer of the division's artillery. In November of 1955 I
was assigned a mission by General Soleman to select 45 men of my own
choosing to go to Fort Ord, California to set up our new
headquarters. The buildings were there, I just had to select the
buildings to accommodate 2500 men. As executive officer, that
position was for the rank of a major, which I was until I had
finished my service commitment in May of 1956. I had had a total
service time of 8 years and 8 months, in both active and reserve.
[to top of second column]
We then made our
way to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the changing of the guard
in silence. The inscription on the tomb read, "Here rests in honor
and glory an American Soldier, unknown but to God." We then could
visit and view Arlington Cemetery where many, many thousands are
buried. They are still burying about 6,800 soldiers there every
year. Audie Murphy's tomb was decorated. He was the most decorated
soldier of World War II. He had achieved the rank of Major from a
Battle Field Commission. After his service time, he went to
Hollywood and made several movies. One of the battles he was in
during the war was made into a movie-To Hell and Back-in which he
Now it was 6:00pm
and time to return to the airport to enjoy our Arby's dinner while
we waited for departure at 8:10 to arrive in Springfield at 9:30pm
CST. On the flight home we had mail call with cards and letters
thanking us for the sacrifice of our time away from home, family,
and friends. It was a very emotional day. When we arrived at the
airport there were hundreds of friends, family, flags, and bagpipes
welcoming us home. Emotions really took over.
Thank God for the
Honor Flight program. This was no cost to the veterans. We were all
assigned a Guardian to make sure we saw everything we wanted to see.
My guardian was Tom Harris Jr. He had also been a Guardian for his
father, a World War II pilot in a P-38. All the Guardians were
fabulous; however, Tom Harris Jr. was fantastic. He really went the
Wheel chairs were
provided by Abraham Lincoln Memorial and Memorial Medical Center. We
took them with us to Washington D.C. and returned them when the
flight was over.
If any individual,
company, or corporation is in a financial position to contribute to
the Honor Flight program, please do so in God's name for other
veterans and for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
To: Land of Lincoln
Honor Flight, Inc.
10912 St. Francis Lane
St. Ann, MO 63074
Attn: Ray Wiedle
Those going from
Lincoln were Gerald Carter, Tom Harris Sr., James Franklin, and
Richard "Ivan" Ray. Alan Pegram was also supposed to participate,
but he got sick at the last minute and was not able to make this
This article is not
about me. I was asked to do an article and take a lot of pictures to
document this amazing flight. I hope I have done this 18th Flight
justice. I sincerely hope the Flights can continue as long as they
receive funding from many generous people. All veterans deserve to
go and see all the memorials commemorating all the conflicts our
nation has been involved in to preserve our Freedom that we continue
to enjoy in God's name for our great country.
[LDN with copy of text from Ivan
Land of Lincoln Honor