World War II veterans head to D.C. to see their Memorial

WICHITA — The veterans are flying to see the National WWII Memorial.

A group of 13 Kansas World War II veterans wearing matching red shirts and blue hats greeted each other Monday in the lobby of Mid-Continent Airport.

Some were old college friends. A few were neighbors. Others were meeting each other for the first time.

But all were traveling to the same destination: Washington, D.C., to see the National WWII Memorial.

For many, it will be their first time to see the memorial dedicated in their honor.

"They've got pictures of the memorial all lit up," said Joe Emmerich, 85, who served in the Navy. "It's gorgeous, and I've been looking forward to it ever since."

The 13 men are part of 115 Kansas veterans traveling to Washington D.C. this week. The veterans flew out of airports throughout the state and will meet up when they arrive.

The veterans are flying as part of Central Prairie Honor Flights, a Great Bend-based division of Honor Flight Network. It is a nonprofit program that arranges trips to Washington, D.C., for WW II and other veterans.

The trips are funded by donations and come at no cost to the veterans, said Dan Curtis, project coordinator for Central Prairie Resource Conservation and Development, which sponsors the program.

The organization is racing against time to make sure WW II veterans see their memorial, Curtis said, because more than 1,200 WW II veterans die each day.

"That's why it's so important for us to get these donations quickly," Curtis said. "We're trying to make sure they get time on the ground and get closure."

To read the complete article, visit

Related stories from McClatchy DC