Savannah Morning News
by Corey Dickstein
Amelia Jones beamed Friday morning as she made her way onto the bus that would carry her to Washington, D.C.
The last of 22 veterans of World War II and the Korean War to board the vehicle, the 95-year-old couldn’t wait to embark on the day-long trip to the U.S. capital, a city she hadn’t visited in more than three decades.
“I’m excited,” said Jones, who served three years in the 8th Air Force during World War II as part of the Women’s Army Corps. “It’ll be interesting to see some of the things that have changed. A lot of changes have been made since I was last there.”
The veterans will spend this weekend in Washington free of charge through Honor Flight Savannah, a nonprofit organization that aims to carry WWII and Korean War veterans to see the monuments erected in their honor.
At least once each year Honor Flight buses a group of veterans to the capital.
The trip that left from the Georgia Air National Guard facility off Dean Forest Road Friday morning was led by Owen Hand, who has volunteered for more than 14 trips since 2008.
The opportunity to spend time with the men and women who served in those wars, Hand said, is incredible.
“I can’t think of the appropriate word to describe it, it’s just an honor,” he said. “It’s humbling; it energizes me when I think about what these folks have done.”
The veterans, oftentimes, are just as appreciative of the volunteers who make it happen.
Jones, who retired as a sergeant after helping establish post offices on nearly a dozen Air Force bases during the war, said she was grateful to those who made the trip possible.
“It’s exciting to know that I am going there at my age, and it wouldn’t be possible without all these wonderful women and men,” she said. “I’d never have been able to make this trip without these people, and I want to thank everybody.”
After visiting several memorials and speaking with current service members stationed in Washington, the group will return to Savannah Sunday morning.
The trip, Hand said, is always powerful, especially watching as the veterans take in the monuments.
“It’s a time of reflection for them,” he said. “I remember walking behind one of my veterans that I was a guardian for on a previous trip, and he just stopped. I was concerned about him, so I asked him, ‘Are you OK?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I’m just thinking.’
“So, it’s very emotional, and I believe it’s therapeutic.”