WWII Veterans honored with flight to D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCSC) - 72 years have passed since Samuel Anderson decided to serve his country. But for a day in mid-April, time stood still.

More than 400 miles away from his home in Andrews, South Carolina, Anderson began re-living the past. For the first time in his life the World War II veteran arrived in Washington, D.C. aboard South Carolina's 11th honor flight.

Started in 2008, South Carolina Honor Flight is a program designed to salute veterans for all they gave to protect the country by flying them to the nation's capital to experience the memorial built for them first hand.

Anderson and 100 other South Carolina veterans were chosen to fly to Washington, D.C. from a list of 260 applicants.

"It's worth it," said Dewitt Talmadge Elliott Jr, sitting across from Anderson. "It's worth every bit of it."

The sight of the tours first stop at the World War II memorial, completed in 2004, brought tears to Elliot's eyes.

"It's a good moment," said Elliot. "It's beautiful."

The 86-year-old from Gaffney served in President Roosevelt's 'Bleed and Burn' 63rd infantry division.

"I wasn't but 18-19 years old when I went overseas," said Elliot. "I wasn't nothing but a kid. I was scared. I ain't going to lie to you, it's scary."

Elliott was sent overseas in 1944, the same year as Anderson, who spent a year in a chemical outfit specializing in the clean up of poison gas.

'It makes me remember," said Anderson, reflecting on seeing the memorial built for him for the first time. "It makes me remember being with my old time veterans. Let's me know that the lord has blessed us to keep us to see this day."

And it was a day filled with travel.

Four large tour buses filled with Vets made stops at the Lincoln memorial, Air Force memorial and the Iwo Jima memorial.

The final stop was Arlington cemetery to witness the changing of the guard.

"When you see the tears that just means so much," said Bill Dukes, Chairman of South Carolina's honor flight. "I know then that they're having a real experience."

An experience that Dukes said is important

"There are less than 3 million World War II veterans living today and they're dying at the rate of 1,200 a day," said Dukes. "There's an urgency."

But for a day, time stood still.

"I've had a wonderful day," said Anderson, who returned home to a heroes welcome. "I'm glad to be back home but I had a wonderful day. Even in my young days it's one of the best days I ever did have."

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