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Local Veterans Visit World War II Memorial

Local Veterans Visit
World War II Memorial

By Beth Hunolt
Three local World War II veterans recently had the opportunity to participate in the Central Missouri Honor Flight Network, located in Columbia, MO. The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization that transports surviving World War II veterans to Washington DC to see the World War II Memorial. The Honor Flight Network realizes that the veterans are becoming increasing rare and that some of the veterans are restricted to certain activities. The volunteers of the organization assist the aging veterans with their journey and provide them with the care they require, these volunteers are called guardians.
 Gordon Cloyd, Harry Holman and Bill Hunziker were among 65 Missouri World War II veterans to received free passage to their honorary memorial. The Knox County participants arrived in Columbia and loaded onto a bus headed for St. Louis with their fellow veterans. From there the group boarded a charter flight to Baltimore and were greeted by a thankful crowd. Once the honored guests arrived in Washington DC, by way of bus, they were taken to their dedicated memorial.
 The World War II Memorial first opened on April 29th, 2004 and was dedicated a month later by President George W, Bush. The World War II Memorial is located on the National Mall at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The memorial consists of a pair of arches and 56 pillars, which surround a granite plaza and a fountain. The memorial also honors the fallen of the second World War with the Freedom Wall. The wall is on the west side of the memorial and is made up of 4,048 gold stars with each star representing 100 Americans who died in the war.
 The Missouri Veterans were able to take pictures of the monument with cameras that the Honor Flight Program supplied. The vets were encouraged to visit other national landmarks in the area. Some of the other memorials that our local heroes visited where the Korean Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the new Air Force Memorial, the White House, the National Treasury and the Pentagon.
 Gordon Clyod, of Edina, joined the United States Navy when he was seventeen and served until he was twenty-one. His contribution to the war was on a submarine ship in the Pacific Ocean. Clyod said that the memorial was interesting he was very grateful to the Honor Flight Program’s Guardians, “The guardians took excellent care of the veterans.”
 Harry Holman, of Hurdland, was eighteen years old when he served his county. Mr. Holman was a United States Merchant Marine who was stationed in the Mediterranean Sea. He described the memorial as wonderful. Holman also stated, “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I was glad to be a part of.”
  Bill Hunziker, of Edina, was a member of the Army Air Corps and served the nation as a nose gunner on a B24 aircraft in Italy. He assisted in thirty-five missions across Europe. Mr. Hunziker recalled the memorial as impressive and admitted that his favorite part of the journey was the “mail call” on the plane ride home. Each veteran was given letters from home thanking the men for their service to the nation.
 The Missouri travelers arrived back in Columbia at midnight. Their bus was escorted to the Marriott Hotel by an estimated seventy Patriot Riders motorcyclists. Law enforcement agents paid respect to the veterans by halting traffic for their bus. When the passengers arrived at their hotel, the vets were surprised by a cheerful crowd welcoming them back.
 Our local boys said that they slept in after their tiring twenty-four hour trip and had a late breakfast at the Bob Evans restaurant in Columbia that had been paid for by a private party.
 This was the seventh and last flight of the year for the Columbia based section of the Honor Flight Network. With more and more World War II veterans surrendering to time, the opportunity to participate in the Honor Flight Network is indeed a special event and a worthwhile experience to the veterans. The Honor Flight Network gives the veterans the opportunity to reflect on their memorial and honors those who deserve the respect of a free America.