Significant ceremonies on Day 2 of the South Plains Honor Flight

Published: Jun. 4, 2023 at 9:44 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2023 at 9:58 AM CDT
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WASHINGTON, DC (KCBD) - The second day of the 2023 Texas South Plains Honor Flight began with a rare opportunity to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier inside Arlington National Cemetery and ended with a Vietnam War Commemoration and pinning ceremony for those veterans.

Visits to the Marine Corps Memorial, National Museum of the United States Army and the National Air and Space Museum came in between.

Four of the South Plains Honor Flight veterans joined the 3rd Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, for a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier following the Changing of the Guard. Milton Lee, a Vietnam veteran, helped to lead the procession.

“To be with the honor guard and be a part of that, and helping my partner out, it was great and I really enjoyed it,” Lee said.

Visiting the solemn place was nothing like Lee expected.

“When you come out here and see it in person, it just has more of an impact and it’s just awesome,” Lee said.

Lee says he dedicated this act of honor to the friends he served with and those he never saw again.

“I thought about some of my classmates,” Lee said. “We all graduated at the same time but that was the last time we were going to see each other.”

The solemnity of the day extended to the Marine Corps Memorial, the statue of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. George Mayer led his fellow Marines to the site dedicated to the honor and memory of all fallen Marines.

“I thought about the ones we lost in Vietnam, that’s what I was thinking about,” Mayer said.

Mayer is an immigrant from Germany. He said he came to the United States in 1964 and was drafted just a few years later.

“I told them they made a mistake and they said, ‘there’s the bus’ and I ended up in Parris Island the same night,” Mayer said.

Then and now, as an American, Mayer is proud to have served his country. This Honor Flight, he says, is an experience he’ll never forget.

“I’m glad I came. I’m glad I came. Thank you.”

Kenneth Houk served during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1962.

“I got out and the day I got out, our unit got called up,” Houk said.

He led his fellow Army veterans in a wreath laying outside the National Museum of the United States Army.

“It’s exciting, something I never thought I’d do,” Houk said.

The Honor Flight made its final stop of the second day at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum.

Back at the hotel after dinner, representatives of the Vietnam War Commemoration presented lapel pins to each of the more than 80 Vietnam veterans on the Honor Flight. Those pins are inscribed with “A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You,” a chance to properly thank those who served their country.

Members of the community are invited to also properly welcome home the South Plains Honor Flight at the Lubbock airport Monday evening. The flight is expected to arrive at 8:45 p.m.

Attendees are advised that short-term parking may be scarce and be prepared to utilized Shelter Park and shuttles.

To support the Texas South Plains Honor Flight, click here.