Arnold War Vets Tour Washington on Honor Flight
Three Arnold veterans received a free tour of the nation’s capital to see the memorials dedicated to soldiers like them.
Three Arnold veterans were treated to an all-expense paid tour of war memorials and historic sites in Washington, D.C. this month.
Roy Wilde, 84, Tim Dell, 89, and John Stamm, 84, all traveled to the nation's capital in a trip sponsored by The Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit organization that has been taking World War II veterans on tours of the capital since 2005. The organization’s philosophy states that if the country feels it’s important to build monuments to war veterans, then it’s even more important to give those vets a chance to see them.
“I think what impressed Roy and me and the rest of the guys was the hospitality. They were great to us,” Dell said.
“We saw Arlington and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We witnessed the replacement of the guards,” Wilde said.
The three men started their journey at 3:45 a.m. on Sept. 26 and boarded a plane with other St. Louis-area vets at Lambert St. Louis International Airport before dawn. They arrived on the East Coast by 9:30 that morning, got on a charter bus and were touring memorials by 11 a.m.
“It was something to remember,” Wilde said. “It was a full, heavy day, but well organized. You couldn’t do any better job.”
Honor Flight does not take spouses or children on the tour, but does provide qualified Guardians to accompany the veterans and look after their needs. Wilde said the Guardian assigned to them was Jason Drezek, a paramedic and former Marine from St. Charles.
“What got me was that they did not charge one red cent. And we couldn’t give them anything. I don’t see how they did it, to be honest with you,” Dell said.
The Honor Flight is supported entirely by private and corporate donations. Southwest Airlines donates the airfare. So far, more than 81,000 WWII veterans have flown to D.C. with only souvenir money in their pockets.
The tour included the memorials for World War II, Iwo Jima, the Korean War and Arlington Cemetery. They also stopped by the Roosevelt Memorial and drove around the capital to take in sites like the White House.
The veterans returned home the same evening to be met by a crowd of family, friends and other supporters for a reception.