Honor Flight takes WWII vets to Washington on 70th anniversary o - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Honor Flight takes WWII vets to Washington on 70th anniversary of D-Day

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Veterans shake hands with Senator Mitch McConnell before departing Louisville International Airport to visit National World War II Memorial in Washington on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Veterans shake hands with Senator Mitch McConnell before departing Louisville International Airport to visit National World War II Memorial in Washington on the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Lloyd Heller, 98, says he knows people who know nothing about D-Day or what it meant to the world. Lloyd Heller, 98, says he knows people who know nothing about D-Day or what it meant to the world.
Congressman John Yarmuth says World War II vets have an amazing oral history to tell. Congressman John Yarmuth says World War II vets have an amazing oral history to tell.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Nearly 30 Kentuckiana World War II veterans are spending the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Washington, D.C.

Ford Motor Company is picking up the tab for the honor flights so the vets can visit the National World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Iwo Jima Monument.

The aging vets are honored to have lived long enough to witness the historic milestone of the landings at Normandy, the largest seaborne invasion in history, which led to an Allied victory in the war.  

Ninety-eight year old Lloyd Heller was among the vets taking the Honor Flight. He served in the army from 1942 to 1945 as a corporal driving tanks. Heller was in England on D-Day and followed shortly behind, after troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. He was injured in the Battle of the Bulge, and hospitalized for seven months.

Heller was honored with a purple heart, three battle stars and a good conduct medal. He thinks it's important to remember the lessons of war.

"I guess history is history, and history was made in 1944 on D-Day," Heller said. "A lot of people I've known, they didn't realize there was a D-Day -- younger people, Heller said.

Arthur Peer, a bomber pilot, was just 19 years old on the day of the historic invasion. D-Day was his second mission.

"I got up there there was nobody. I was the only airplane in sight. That's when I happened to sight this B-17 and figured, boy, he knows where he's going, I'm going to follow him over the channel. And when he dropped his bombs, I dropped mine, and I hoped he knew what he was doing you know?"

Peer was young, but realized the impact.

"You fight the war for the world, not just your country," Peer said.

Among the dignitaries seeing the vets off on their trip were newly appointed Kentucky Veterans Affairs Commissioner Heather French Henry, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Third District Congressman John Yarmuth.

"Everybody from that generation remembers virtually every detail of their service," Yarmuth said. "And it's an amazing oral history to hear."

"This was a war that could have -- had it turned out the wrong way -- literally changed the rest of the world in a very unfortunate way," McConnell said.

A welcome home celebration is set for 9:30 p.m. at Louisville International Airport when the vets return. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

Future flights will be scheduled for later this summer and fall.

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