88 World War Two veterans, mostly from Mississippi, were in the nation's capital Tuesday to see the National World War Two Memorial and other sites as part of the 4th Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight. The flights are sponsored by a number of corporations and organizations and are a way of saying thank you to Magnolia State veterans for their service and sacrifice.
The veterans, along with volunteer guardians and other members of the Honor Flight organization, left Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport early Tuesday morning and arrived in Washington before noon.
"I wanted to see history and they gave me a chance to do it and here I am," said Eddie Barnes of Hattiesburg, an Army veteran who served from 1943-46.
"I just think it's a wonderful display here and it's just a wonderful place to visit," said Harry Pippen, another World War Two veteran from Laurel.
The veterans also visited the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.
They returned to Gulfport Tuesday night, where they were greeted as rerturning heros by hundreds of local residents and active-duty military personnel.
"We show them the gratitude that they deserve," said Wayne Lennep, public information officer for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight. "We thank them for their service and we really believe that America is free because of these people and we just want to take them to that memorial that was built in their honor," Lennep said.