Idaho WWII vets reflect on D.C. honor flight

Credit: Theresa Palmgren / KTVB

Idaho WWII vets reflect on D.C. honor flight


by Bonnie Shelton

Bio | Email | Follow: @BonnieKTVB


Posted on September 12, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 12 at 3:48 PM

BOISE -- Last week, 26 Idaho World War II veterans went on the trip of a lifetime to view and tour several national monuments in Washington D.C.

For many of them, it was a chance to share the stories they've carried for close to 70 years.

Each of the veterans experienced the impact of World War II and its aftermath. However, last week's journey saw them sharing another important experience.

U.S. Army veteran Carl Olson told KTVB the trip was filled with cameraderie and gratitude.

"I've never seen a group that was more united,” he added, telling us people in Washington D.C. took notice of the group, too.

"They would say to us 'Thank you very much for your service,'” said Olson.

"Wherever we went, people stopped what they were doing and came over and gathered around us,” added U.S. Army veteran William Litzebauer. "I initiated hugs and kisses. I said that's the only thing I accept.”

Both vets, who now live in Boise, said the trip brought back intense emotions from their time in the service. That was especially true for Olson, who worked for four years during World War II burying dead soldiers in Europe.

"I looked at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Did I have anything to do with that? We buried lots of soldiers as unknown,” he said.

These two vets told us the experience allowed the group to open up and bond. All 26 became close friends by the end of the three-day trip.

"It was there and you could see it, taste it,” said Litzebauer.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 640 World War II veterans die each day.

Both Olson and Litzebauer said the Honor Flight program is invaluable because it recognizes those people who helped shape our country into what it is today.

"It was a big thank you and quite impressive to me,” Litzebauer added.

The Honor Flight program is currently offered in 41 states. The flight last week was just the second from Idaho.

If you'd like to learn more about the Honor Flight of Idaho program, including how to sign-up a World War II vet for the trip, click here.