The Oklahoma Warriors Honor Flight program is an initiative that provides trips to Washington, D.C., for military veterans to experience the memorials and history of the nation’s capital. The most recent trip occurred Monday, with nearly 70 veterans flying from Oklahoma to Washington for a sightseeing trip.
Among the veterans who took part was Charles Henneke, 91, of Drummond, who served in the Korean War as a U.S. Marine. He traveled with his sons David and Dale, and described the trip as something he would never forget. Dale Henneke served as a guardian for his father, while David Henneke served as a guardian for a veteran who served in Vietnam.
Charles Henneke said he had only seen pictures of the monuments, but being there in person and seeing the scale of them was unlike anything he had seen.
“It was tremendous. I had seen pictures of the Washington Monument and all those things, but it’s not like seeing it in person,” Henneke said. “It was really indescribable. And going through the cemetery, we saw where Audie Murphy was buried, and there’s crosses no matter where you look.”
They were able to see the White House and the Pentagon from a distance, as well as seeing many pillars of the country that have stood for hundreds of years.
“All the memorials we saw were just unbelievable,” Henneke said. “I can’t find the right words to describe it.”
Henneke said he never thought he would visit Washington, D.C., to see the monuments.
“For me, I live in Oklahoma and here out in the country, and I don’t go to places like that,” Henneke said, “and it’s just a trip of a lifetime for me. A trip of a lifetime. And seeing the veterans and seeing those monuments, I just can’t find the words for it.”
He said it was a trip that was special to take part in with other veterans.
“Of course, we didn’t have our uniforms on or anything like that,” Henneke said. “You could hear other people describing their time in the service. They were sharing different stories, and some of them had been in the service together and knew one another and talked about their times in the service together. It was just a magnificent trip.”
He said being able to experience it with his sons David and Dale was quite something. He said it made it special to be able to make the trip with members of his family. While it was a short trip in terms of how long they were in D.C., it still was time to take in all the special sites. Henneke said seeing the U.S. Marine Corps monument to the flag raising on Iwo Jima from World War II was his favorite part of the trip.
“I think the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima … that statue, I didn’t realize it was that large,” Henneke said. “But that was quite a sight. The trip was a vacation of a lifetime. I can’t really describe how I feel. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
The Oklahoma Warriors Honor Flights tries to take two trips to Washington each year. The next one is scheduled for April 2023. For more information on the program, visit oklahomawarriors.org.
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