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AFN Student Serves SC World War II Veterans

AFN Student with WWII Veterans

AFN Student David Floyd visits with WWII Veterans

WWII Vets

WWII Veterans walk through a water cannon salute on their way to Washington, DC

On September 18th, 2012, Mr. David Floyd, a senior nurse anesthetist in the AFN Program, had the opportunity to serve South Carolina WWII Veterans. David was a participant in Honor Flight, a non-profit volunteer-based organization whose mission is to honor surviving WWII veterans by taking them on a free, one-day trip to Washington D.C. to visit, among other places, the WWII Memorial built in their honor. David’s assignment is to be a Guardian. According to David, “My focus is not to guard things but rather people—two to be exact. Their names are Marvin and John, two WWII veterans representing two branches of the military. Marvin served in the Army, and John was in the Navy. Interestingly, both were trained to engage the enemy from the air, so the short one-hour flight to Reagan International Airport and back isn’t a big deal for these guys. I’ll be their travel companion providing watchful care and attentive service throughout the day; and they, along with the other WWII veterans, are my top priority for the day”.

South Carolina Honor Flight 2012 departed from the Greenville/Spartanburg SC airport. The mission started off with a sendoff worthy of heroes. The final taxi before takeoff for Washington, D.C. took them through a water cannon salute provided by a local fire department. They received another such salute upon landing in Washington, D.C. Ironically, it would not be the last time water would rain down during the mission. During the time leading up to flight and the time spent in Washington DC, David had the opportunity to get to know members of “The Greatest Generation”. “Marvin, at the age of 88, is still on the move, enjoying family and blue grass music. As the day progressed, Marvin’s sense of humor became evident; he had John and I laughing on several occasions during our trip. John, at age 92, is a gentleman—educated, hardworking (although at slower pace), courageous, and still displaying acts of loving loyalty towards God, family, friends, and country. While on a tour meant to serve him, he noticed other veterans in need of assistance and offered a helping hand. These guys were a delight,
and I was glad to be a part of both their lives for a day”. (David Floyd Correspondence)

The first stop was the WWII Memorial. Marvin and John loved it, and David knew it stirred memories of a personalized war gone by. After a brief photo shoot, they moved on to the Washington Navy Yard to visit the National Museum of the United States Navy. After making the way through a remarkable show of naval history, it was decided by leadership to continue our tour of the city exclusively by bus—good thing since rain subsequently poured down hard and heavy. The decision didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirit or detract from the thrust of the mission. Another benefit they enjoyed during the motorized tour was a police escort through D.C. This is the only way to maneuver the Capitol city efficiently and effectively. Traffic and road barriers were non-existent. It was truly presidential treatment, and all applauded its immense value to the mission.

The bus tour over, the veterans and David Floyd headed back to Reagan National Airport to rest and relax while awaiting their departure. This interlude proved to be quite entertaining. There was a small band of musicians present, and their big band style melodies inspired some of our veterans to find a female companion and begin dancing. It was a long day with a great amount of enjoyable activity, but the best was yet to come. Awaiting the veterans upon their arrival back at Greenville-Spartanburg Airport was a brilliant display of patriotism and gratitude for their sacrificial service. A substantial crowd of military personnel and civilians were gathered at the airport to welcome the WWII veterans. After passing through the final security checkpoint, each veteran was greeted by an active member of the military and then walked through a sword salute where at the end he was met by a law-enforcement officer who escorted him to an improvised balcony where he received applause and cheering from a throng of supporters in the airport atrium. According to David, it was a very emotional experience “The whole thing choked me up. The thought occurred to me that this is how it should be. These veterans earned this recognition and much more. Thank you, Marvin, John, and all WWII veterans, you have done well; receive your honor.”

(See www.honorflight.org for full history).

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