Sharing memories with the South Plains Honor Flight - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Sharing memories with the South Plains Honor Flight

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

To most, it's just a wreath, made of flowers and held together with twine, but for the veterans of the South Plains Honor Flight, it's a symbol of sacrifice and the comrades they've left behind.

"I've been overseas and all that. And it just brings back memories," veteran Jerry Todd said.

It was silent as four men stepped out in front of hundreds of onlookers. Slowly, they followed their commander and placed a wreath on this hallowed piece of ground, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

"I never dreamed that I could do this and help carry the wreath," Todd said.

"I was thinking, this sure is an honor to do this, I hope I don't mess up," veteran Lester Brown told us.

Moments like that are what the South Plains Honor Flight is all about, giving these true American heroes the recognition they deserve, for the sacrifices they made a lifetime ago.

Gary Bullard never imagined the flag he saw billowing that day on Iwo Jima would become an iconic image.

"We were carrying out the wounded and that's all we were worried about. But we turned around and looked and that's about the greatest sight you'll ever see," Bullard said.

Although the years have passed, the men and woman of the Honor Flight agree, the sights and sounds of the battlefield are still fresh.

"It's war and war is terrible. But nobody's going to whoop the United States. They've tried, and it did not work," veteran Teddy McMillan said.

For Lloyd Rose, the memories of Vietnam are still vivid.

"As we were leaving, the rockets were coming in and of course they were trying to take out the plane," Rose said.

But like so many who fought in that war, Rose did not get a warm welcome home.

"They put us on buses and took us to San Francisco International Airport. And when we got to the airport, there was a gauntlet of people there. We just walked through the gauntlet with our heads held high, calling us names, pushing on us and shoving us a little bit," Rose said.

For nearly 40 years, a homecoming is something Rose has desperately longed for.

"As we were leaving the airport in Lubbock, those people clapping, those people saluting us. They acted like they really cared that I actually served in Vietnam," Rose said.

And thanks to the South Plains Honor Flight, Rose and so many others were given that hero's homecoming at last.

"What I want to do is thank the people of Lubbock, because the greatest thing they did for me was they gave me a welcome home," Rose said.

This is the second annual South Plains Honor Flight. The organization plans to continue their yearly trips to DC until all our local veterans have seen the memorials built in their honor in our Nation's Capital.

For more information, visit, www.southplainshonorflight.com.

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