PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - More than 50 World War Two veterans from Maine are in our nation’s capitol.
They arrived this afternoon and will spend the weekend bonding and reminiscing with each other. Tomorrow they will spend the day visiting the World War Two Memorial built in their honor. The trip was put together and paid for by the non-profit group Honor Flight Maine.
They’ve been dubbed the “Greatest Generation”, those who served our country in World War Two. When we think of them, we mostly think of men. But women served as well.
“My mother called up and said Iona, she said they just bombed Pearl Harbor”, said veteran Iona Osnoe of Brunswick.
Less than a year after receiving that news from her mother, Osnoe found herself in the WAAC, the Army auxillary for women. In the days before radar, she helped with our first line of defense.
“On hills they would have the lookout points and they would call them in to us and we would trace the airplanes and check em out to see if they were enemy or friendly”, she said.
Osnoe is one of four female veterans from Maine on this weekend’s Honor Flight trip to DC.
“It’s just a thrill to be able to honor them as well, because its predominantly men that we have had on these trips”, said Laurie Sidelinger, Chairperson of the Honor Flight board.
Maine resident Earl Morse founded the nationwide program 11-years ago, with the goal of bringing every World War Two veteran to their memorial. While visiting that memorial, it dawned on him how difficult it is for veterans to individually make the trip.
“There was one WWII veteran there, one. Tomorrow there’s going to be hundreds”, he said.
For Morse and the workers and volunteers of Honor Flight, it’s a race against the clock. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs an estimated 600 World War Two veterans die every day.
“So now, 2016, the youngest World War Two veteran is 88-years old and we’re running out of time, so we cannot get them down there fast enough”, Morse said.
Organizers are calling on everyone to come out to the Jetport before noon on Sunday and give these veterans a hero’s welcome when they return home.