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WW II veterans depart for D.C.

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY, Ga. -- Some members of the Greatest Generation, their families and members of the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County and Albany Golden K Kiwanis Club met Thursday afternoon to assist several local World War II veterans with their journey to Washington, D.C., as part of the West Georgia Honor Flight Program.

Kathleen Moylan of Kiwanis Dougherty said club members raised money to cover the cost of the trip for the veterans and their chaperones who will accompany them on the trip.

"The club made a generous donation to the program on behalf of our veterans," she said.

Kiwanis members transported the seven local veterans and their chaperones to Columbus Thursday afternoon, where they planned to rest for the night and then board the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., this morning.

Under the Honor Flight program, WW II veterans have an all-expenses-paid, one-day journey to the nation's capital, where they have a chance to tour historical sites and monuments and bond with their fellow comrades.

Moylan said excitement for the trip has been building.

"Some of these guys have had their suitcases packed for weeks," she said.

John Belk, who served as a rifleman in the Marine Corps during WW II, said Thursday afternoon that traveling doesn't bother him like some of the "older fellas."

"Traveling -- that's about all I've been doing lately," quipped the 86-year-old Belk, who recently returned from a trip to Detroit.

He said he was excited about having time to tour the monuments.

"I didn't get to see all the things (last time I was in Washington) we are going to see on this trip," he said.

Jimmy Pritchett's 27-year-old grandson, Lowell Samples, will accompany the veteran on his trip. Pritchett, who served as a Naval aviator during WW II, said he looked forward to seeing the WW II Memorial in better weather.

"I've been to the WW II Memorial one time, but is was around midnight and it was during Christmas -- it was really cold," he said.

Pritchett, who was stationed in Washington in 1942, said he was excited to return to the nation's capital.

"We are going back to where I started flying airplanes in the Navy," he laughed. "This trip has got a lot of potential as far as I'm concerned."

Jim Nicholson, who served as a torpedoman in the Navy during the war, said he was very excited about the trip because he has never visited the WW II Memorial.

"I haven't seen any of them," he said with a smile. "The WW II Memorial and the Korean War Memorial have been built since I've been up there."

The WW II veterans are expected to return home late tonight.