The weather began pretty cool, accompanied by strong, gusty winds. But as the day in the Nation’s Capital progressed, the sun smiled. We were met at the Baltimore Airport by nearly 100 uniformed military service members and about that many civilians. Midshipmen from Annapolis traveled to Washington with us as additional guardians. As we arrived at the Wall, the Marine Corps’ Band of America’s Few greeted us with rousing marches. Colors were presented by representatives of all the armed services. This was coordinated by the Old Guard at Fort Meyers.
While in DC, the group toured the Korean War memorial, attended a changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and visited the Marine, the new Disabled Veterans for Life and the World War II memorials. We returned to Columbus to hundreds cheering supporters with the message, Welcome Home.
Honor Flight’s own Sergeant Major Chuck Murray directed the program. Our Marines, soldiers and sailors assembled near the Wall where they received the Department of Defense 50th Anniversary Vietnam pin.
Marine Major General Arnold Fields spoke and described the meaning of the pin, which is “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You.” Each veteran was pinned by his guardian.. Following the placing of a memorial wreath at the apex of the wall, our group members had time for reflection and remembrance. Two Purple Heart banners bearing the signatures of all our vets traveled with us. One was given to the Vietnam Memorial Museum and the other will be presented to Nationwide, the sponsor for this flight.
Honor Flight Columbus has transitioned into the Vietnam War. We proudly took 96 Vietnam Purple Heart Recipients to visit their memorial on Saturday October 22, 2016, Our trip was the largest ever Honor Flight gathering of Purple Heart Recipients. We had 100 scheduled, but four could not make it at the last minute. Beginning in Spring 2017, Vietnam veterans will be included in regular flights to DC along with World War II and Korean War veterans.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart salutes Honor Flight Columbus for Ohio's first all-Purple Heart Vietnam War flight.