“I have traveled all over the world, and to every state in the nation, but I have never seen the warmth we felt on this trip,” he said. “It really showed me strongly the feeling that people in Wyoming have (toward veterans). They …
Veterans return from visiting WWII Memorial in D.C.Traveling to Washington, D.C., was not new for Raymond Brittain, a World War II veteran from Powell. But his experience as a member of last week's Honor Flight to the nation's capital to view the National World War II Memorial and other monuments was on a completely different level.
“I have traveled all over the world, and to every state in the nation, but I have never seen the warmth we felt on this trip,” he said. “It really showed me strongly the feeling that people in Wyoming have (toward veterans). They were really good to us.”
“The World War II Memorial was wonderful,” Brittain said. “It had engraved sayings into the granite about Pearl Harbor. It got to me, because I'm a Pearl Harbor survivor.”
The World War II Memorial didn't exist when he made his last trip to Washington, he said.
“You look right straight on down to the Washington Monument and the mall, and on the other end is the Lincoln Memorial,” he said. “They took us to all of those, and we had our pictures taken, and we saw the Marine Memorial, the Navy Memorial and the Vietnam Wall.”
Brittain said there was one volunteer guardian for every three veterans, and they worked diligently to help the veterans, many of whom were in wheelchairs.
“They looked out after us,” he said. The trip was really, really, very impressive,” he said.
Veteran Bill Lynn of Powell also said he was moved to see the World War II Memorial, and by the reception the veterans received from Powell on through Cody, Meeteetse, Casper and in Washington. Greeters in Washington included Gov. Dave Freudenthal, as well as U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, he said.
“Bob Dole was even there,” he added.
Lynn said the Honor Flight made the veterans feel a little as if they were treated like royalty.
“Every few minutes, they stopped and asked if we needed anything,” he said.
He also praised the efforts of the guardians, all of whom donated their time and $800 for their traveling costs.
“I said, ‘Why would somebody take time off and pay their own way to take care of three old men? Man, that's something.'”
The guardians assured the veterans that serving them was an honor, Lynn said.
“They showed us a real good time. They wouldn't even let us carry our bags.”
Lynn said he enjoyed the fact that the group from Powell included three of his classmates from Powell High School Class of 1944, providing a mini reunion of sorts.
“I thought that was quite something, too,” he said.
For Lynn, one of the most touching moments was when, during the flight, the veterans were treated to a mail call. This time, it consisted of letters from family members thanking them for their service to their country.
“I got letters from my wife and my grandkids, and I cried through every one of them,” he said. “I got a stack of letters. That was more than I ever got when I was in the war.”
Evelyn Lewis of Powell was one of five women included in the Honor Flight.
She served as a nurse in the U.S. Army during World War II and was stationed in Panama, Hawaii, Guam and, after the war, in the Philippines.
She described the Honor Flight as “one of the best experiences I've ever had.”
“Every place we went, there were people trying to give us things and thanking us. It was really fantastic.”
Lewis said she enjoyed visiting all of the veterans memorials, which she hadn't seen before. A special moment for her came when the group visited the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.
“They had a woman general at the women's memorial, and she found out I was an Army nurse. She said, ‘I think nurses were the most underrated people in the war.'”
Lewis also was impressed by the reception the veterans received all along the way.