A special tribute to our veterans as they returned home from a mission long overdue.
Wednesday they took a trip to Washington, DC, to visit the World War II Memorial.
Only on FOX23 News Abbie Alford and photojournalist Aaron Primmer were there as they received their mail call from Green Country students.
"Dear honorable veteran, whoo hoo,” says World War II veteran, Cliff Sousa.
Ask any WWII veteran and they’ll tell you letters from home were what kept them alive and gave them something to fight for.
Nearly 70 years later Oklahoma veterans on the Honor Flight are still receiving letters like the one written by nine-year-old Bethany Sanchez.
"’Thank you for serving our country smiley faces, smiley faces,’” says Sousa.
The 104 WWII veterans have a lot of reading materials as they board the plane home from Washington D.C.. There were more than five thousand letters written by Green Country students.
"Thank you for letting our country be free,’” says a guardian to one of the veterans.
The innocence of a child, in their own words is more than a hand-shake.
"’I’m too much of a sissy to be a veteran’. I thought that was good,” says Sousa.
The letters reveal a patriotic understanding
"Just young children, wonderful. Look at that fighting, 'fiting'. It's from the heart. So it's real,” says retired Staff Sgt. Arthur Filkins of Claremore. "Their heart was in it and they said it like they felt."
The veterans were shown just how much they are appreciated during their day in the nation’s capital.
Their service and sacrifice is honored every step of the way.
“'Your strength and determination is so greatly honored,’” says Sousa.
For Mr. Filkins says the letters were the first.
"Two years, eleven months and five days I never got mail from home," says the retired WWII veteran. "I'll keep these letters for sure."
The guardians of the veterans have to pay their own $500 fare.
Each trip costs about $90,000.
Honor Flight says they have a waiting list that could fill three trips in 2012.
Another trip is scheduled for October.
Honor Flight Chairman Representative Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, says of some of the donors, Spirit Aero Systems donated $25,000 and Owasso School District raised $16,000.
Applications and donations for Oklahoma Honor Flight can be sent to Oklahoma Honor Flights P.O. Box 10492 Midwest City, OK 73140. Or you can call Rep. Proctor at (918) 407-9403 or e-mail at email@example.com.