WWII Vets take Honor Flight to Washington - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

WWII Vets take Honor Flight to Washington

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Right now, 13 World War II veterans from the Albany area are preparing for an Honor Flight to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.  On Monday, they're visiting the infantry museum at Ft. Benning, before heading to the nation's capital.

We told you the veterans were preparing for this journey a couple of weeks ago.  They needed help getting to and from Columbus and when we told you that, the National Guard stepped up to serve them.

These gentlemen are all brothers in arms, serving in various roles during World War II.  Clem Rakel said, "Well, I was in the Navy."

Paul Rakel said, "I was flying B-17's over Germany, flew 27 missions."

Paul Rakel and Clem Rakel are blood brothers, Tuesday, they'll get to share another life experience together.

"It's quite an honor, thrill," said Clem.  "Means a lot," said Paul.  "It does.  Be glad to be able to see it.  They say it's really a fine place.  Very extraordinary.  I'm looking forward to see it."

It's a trip that most World War II veterans have never experienced.   For Paul Rakel, it's an incredible way celebrate his 86th birthday.  He said, "Means a lot that people think we did something great, saying thank you, I guess."  Clem Rakel said, "It feels great."

Staff Sergeant Brandon Roberson has served in the military for nine years, including two tours in Iraq.  He says it's an honor to be able to escort members of the Greatest Generation to Columbus where they'll catch a plane early Tuesday morning. 

He said, "For me to get the chance to spend the days with these guys and listen to their stories, it's an honor.  It really is."

A chance to thank them for their service, as they prepare for their flight of honor.

The next 36 hours will be action packed for the veterans.  Their flight for Washington leaves Columbus at 8 AM, and they'll return Tuesday night around 9:30.    

As you can imagine, walking around Washington, DC all day is tiring.   Each veteran has a volunteer with him and is given an opportunity to use a wheelchair to make the trip a little easier to handle.

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