Honor Flight veteran returns to Arlington National Cemetery for the first time since Kennedy honor guard

Honor Flight veteran returns to Arlington National Cemetery for the first time since Kennedy honor guard

(KCBD) - Veterans Day is this Saturday, November 11th, and KCBD wants to honor all those who fought for our freedom. Just last month, a KCBD crew attended the 2017 South Plains Honor Flight, where more than 80 veterans visited memorials from their times in service, some of them seeing those monuments for the first time.

One of those men was Wild Bill Riley, a veteran and a member the honor guard for President John F. Kennedy's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.

Stepping into Arlington National Cemetery, you can feel history in the air. There are moments frozen in time, row by row.

For many visitors, they're a symbol of sacrifice in years past. For Wild Bill, these roads and headstones are memories burned in his mind forever.

"It's good to be here, it brings back rough times," said Wild Bill, an Army Veteran from the Vietnam era.

He walked these paths years ago as part of the Presidential Honor Battalion.

"President Kennedy was a soldier's friend, and I believe a great President. We've had a lot of good Presidents, but we've had few great ones. And I believe President Kennedy was the great one," Bill said.

Now, back for the first time in decades, things are a little different.

"It has changed a bunch since I was here before," Bill said, looking around the historic cemetery.

But at least one thing remains the same.

"I planned to make it part of my bucket list to come back to DC and Arlington," Bill said.

Bill was a young soldier when he first saw the eternal flame.

"We held to a standard be smooth and polished and keep ourselves straight, and I proudly tell everyone that I belonged to the Presidential Honor Guard Battalion."

Decades later, the memory of that honor still burns bright.

"I'm thankful I got to come with comrades that served in all the branches of service and that we could show our respects for not only my president but also for the tomb and the unknown soldier and all those that gave so much for this country's freedom. I would've gladly served again," Bill said.

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