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Thanking WWII veterans

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2010, at 12:04 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, April 18, 2011, at 6:21 a.m.

BALTIMORE — More than 100 World War II veterans from Kansas visited the World War II Memorial and other sights in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday as part of a national grassroots movement to thank veterans for their service.

"A lot of these veterans came home from the war and there wasn't a lot of fanfare," said Mike Barbeau from Hutchinson, who is accompanying his father, Paul Barbeau of Andale.

"What makes this trip so important is to see these guys," he said. "You see their faces light up. Now they get a thank you... before it is too late."

The Kansas veterans are sponsored by the Central Prairie Honor Flight, based in Great Bend. The group identifies World War II veterans and flies them to Washington — at no cost to the veteran.

Although the veterans represent all areas of Kansas, the bulk of veterans on this trip are from Sedgwick and surrounding counties. The average age is 83.

Barbeau was one of about 20 Kansans who arrived in Baltimore on Monday night in preparation for the Kansas veterans' arrival on Tuesday.

The veterans left Wichita about 7 a.m. Tuesday and arrived in Baltimore mid-morning where they were met by a cheering crowd and fire trucks offering a water cannon salute over the aircraft.

Their itinerary for the two-day trip includes stops at the World War II memorial where they were greeted by Congressman Todd Tiahrt. They also are visiting the Korean War and Vietnam War memorials as well as Arlington Cemetery.

They returned to the World War II memorial on Tuesday for a sunset prayer vigil for veterans who weren't able to make the trip.

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