South Plains Honor Flight remembers the fallen heroes

Published: May. 30, 2022 at 9:32 PM CDT|Updated: May. 30, 2022 at 10:34 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The importance of Memorial Day and what it truly means is highlighted by the Texas South Plains Honor Flight (TSPHF), which allows veterans to travel to Washington, D.C. to visit and lay wreaths at the memorials built in honor of the wars they fought and in tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“I lost some friends in the Korean War so I really understood what we were doing and why,” Coast Guard veteran James Belk said. “It’s just a shame that we have to do this to remember those guys but so easily we forget if you don’t have something like this. This is quite an honor for the guys that gave their all.”

While the feelings of veterans may never match those of Americans who haven’t served, they still hope everyone will realize the significance of such sacrifice.

“Some of my shipmates gave the ultimate price,” Navy veteran Preston Poole said. “I think about them, because they don’t have grandchildren or great grandchildren. That part is in your mind.”

Poole served during the Korean War. Ted James also served during that conflict but in the Air Force. At 93 years old, the oldest on the 2022 TSPHF, he laid the wreath at the Air Force Memorial.

“I had an uncle who was killed flying a P-38 in the South Pacific and we never saw him again,” James told KCBD after the ceremony. “This was for him.”

The names of thousands of service members who died during the Korean and Vietnam Wars are inscribed in the respective memorials on either side of the National Mall. To those who know the people behind the names, the memorials mean so much more.

“This is what is special to me,” Vietnam Army veteran Les Beaty said. “I wanted to come here and do this and touch the wall. Look in there. Look at all my brothers. That’s what it means. So many boys, young boys.”

John Cortez served in the Army during Vietnam. He believes the Vietnam Memorial speaks to the heart of how brave those people were.

“We made it, but the heroes are right there,” Cortez said while pointing at the wall.

For some, a reflection in that wall brings about the realization that their name could easily be on it.

“I keep thinking, why am I not on there,” Ernie Ebert, a Marine veteran, said. “God is taking care of these because they laid down their lives for this country to be free the way it is today.”

The Honor Flight provides the trip to Washington, D.C. for our local veterans at no cost to them. To donate to the TSPHF, click here.

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