By Lt. Norman Jacinto, Expeditionary Medical Facility Bethesda, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
Recently Navy Reservists from Expeditionary Medical Facility (EMF) Bethesda, Detachment S, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center were “all hands on deck” welcoming to the National Capital Area, an Honor Flight of more than 200 World War II and the Korean War veterans from 127 hubs in 41 states.
Much like a small town crowd cheering their military heroes the detachment of reserve physicians, nurses, hospital corpsmen and administrative staff joined other organizations to line the monuments entrances. During their visit the proud vets received enthusiastic applause and given warm hugs by well wishers. Some arrived in wheelchairs and a few others walking slowly with walkers; but all excited to be in our nation’s capitol.
“Welcome home!” shouted a lady wearing a 1940’s era dress as the crowd cheered them on.
The visiting veterans were part of the Honor Flight Network, an organization dedicated to bringing veterans of past wars to view the memorials in Washington, DC. It’s estimated that almost 650 WWII veterans die each day without having visited the memorials built honoring their service. Honor Flight is committed to fulfilling the dreams of these heroes to travel absolutely free to see these memorials built in their honor. Top priority is given to America’s most senior heroes — survivors of World War II and any veteran with a terminal illness who wishes to visit the memorials.
“The day was simply amazing,” said Cmdr. Robin Gibbs, officer in charge of the unit. “Having our team experience something like this strengthens our dedication to serve. We thank these veterans for their service and we will never forget those who did not return, and the ultimate sacrifice they have made.”