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May 27, 2013

Local WWII veterans honored

PLATTSBURGH — There’s only one thing David Mitchell would change about his Honor Flight experience.

“It wasn’t long enough.”

When he returned from World War II, he received little or no recognition or thanks for his efforts overseas, the 87-year-old Cumberland Head resident said.

But the Honor Flight made up for that, Mitchell said, his voice wavering, tears in his eyes.

“I’m not usually emotional.”

Mitchell is a U.S. Army Air Corps veteran.

Rodney Wright, 87, of Rouses Point had a similar story.

“I’ve never talked about it and no one has asked about it,” Wright said, speaking about his time in the U.S. Army Infantry.

“We were drafted because we had a job to do and we did it,” said Robert Brooks, 87, of Plattsburgh, a U.S. Navy veteran.

EARLY START

Since it was founded earlier this year, North Country Honor Flight has recruited World War II veterans to travel free of charge to Washington, D.C., to see the monument built in their honor.

The National World War II Memorial wasn’t finished and opened to the public until 2004.

The first flight for North Country Honor Flight took off May 18.

The 18 veterans and their caretakers for the day, called guardians, met at the U.S. Oval at 5 a.m.

They boarded a bus that would take them to Albany International Airport for the flight to Baltimore and another bus ride to Washington, D.C.

“The red sun started to rise,” as the bus pulled away from the U.S. Oval and started the journey just before 5:30 a.m., Brooks said.

The morning was clear, but cold, at about 38 degrees.

With the bus was a motorcade and as the bus headed south on Interstate 87 at 70 mph, some motorcycles traveling in the opposite direction would turn around and join those escorting the veterans to their flight.

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