For World War II Army veteran Henry C. Ledford of Big Creek in Clay County, it was the first time traveling by air and his first time to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. He turned 100 the day after the trip.
“It was wonderful,” says Ledford. “It was the best thing I’ve ever had in my life.”
Seventy-two Kentucky veterans, who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam wars, went on the all-expenses-paid trip on September 21. Sponsored by Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives for the ninth year, the mission was coordinated by Honor Flight Kentucky, Winchester.
Dave Orewiler, a Florence resident and Army veteran says, “I saw ‘mail call’ listed as a final item on the day’s agenda. I recalled how great it was to receive a letter from home while I was overseas.”
Veterans received a large, personalized bag of cards, letters and patriotic drawings from dozens of thankful adults and children.
“The notes from the children are priceless. A youngster named Peyton sent me a hand-drawn American flag with a personal note reading, ‘Thanks for your service, Veterans.’ Ten-year-old Robbie took the time to write a full-page letter which greeted me as ‘Hero,’” says Orewiler.
Joel Peyton, a 77-year-old Army veteran from Corbin, who served as a medic in Vietnam, was overwhelmed by the welcome home reception from patriotic flag-waving family, friends and citizens who filled the entire terminal at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “I was blown out of the water.”