WWII memorial a Badger Honor Flight favorite - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

WWII memorial a Badger Honor Flight favorite


By Jamie Hersch - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

WASHINGTON (WKOW) -- On Saturday, more than 65 years after World War II ended, 101 Wisconsin veterans saw the memorial built in their honor for the first time.

"I never thought I'd get to see it, until my kids start talking about this honor flight and now I'm on it," said Dick Houden, who served in the Navy during WWII.

"I'm 91 years old and I'm lucky to be here," said Bill Starke, another veteran on Saturday's Badger Honor Flight.

Another vet got a special surprise at the WWII memorial; Marvin Larson's two granddaughters drove up from Virginia to see him.

"We were walking around and all the sudden, there they were. It was very special," said Larson in between tears.

"I've been here before and it's a beautiful memorial but to be here with my grandpa... I can't imagine what he's been through but I can see the emotion and I wouldn't miss it for the world," said Natalie Spiess, Larson's granddaughter.

Natalie and her younger sister, Lacey, made their grandpa's day even more meaningful with their visit. Lacey is currently serving in the Army and says her veteran grandfather played a big role in that decision.

"It was an inspiration, I guess. If he can do it, I wanted to do it," said Spiess.

At the World War II memorial, the stories came pouring out and the memories rushed back.

"I've talked so much about the war that you wonder if you'll ever forget it... and you won't," said Houden.

But on Saturday, the vets made new memories.

Everyone wanted a picture by the Wisconsin granite pillar built just for them, as a keepsake from the trip they'll always remember.

"I didn't know what to expect; it's just amazing. You just can't say enough," said Starke.

"It kind of makes you happy to see that something like this came about because I didn't think it would ever happen, said Howie Heiliger, a 90-year-old WWII Marine and an ex-prisoner of war in Japan.

Soon, many of these vets will be gone and with them, their stories.

That's why this trip and this memorial mean so much; it's a chance to honor the greatest generation while we still can.

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