Four World War II veterans from Richmond Hill are getting a one of a kind opportunity this weekend as they travel with other veterans from the region to Washington D.C. to see the World War II Memorial.
Courtesy of Honor Flight Savannah, Matthew Suddath, Olin Wright, Glen Lindgren and Eugene Hyatt of Richmond Hill, along with 34 other veterans, will board a bus Friday in Savannah and head north in order to see the World War II Memorial among others. Veterans will also take a driving tour of Arlington National Cemetery and experience the “changing of the guard” ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
All four gentlemen are first time travelers with Honor Flight Savannah, and are very excited for the trip “I’m really interested in seeing the World War II Memorial,” Suddath said. “I’m also interested in seeing the Korean War Memorial with the soldiers walking through acres of rice patties because I can associate with that.”
Suddath, who is originally from Statesboro, served in World War II as a Marine, served in the Army during the Korean War and was a part of Army Intelligence during Vietnam.
Wright’s wife, Barbara Wright, saw an advertisement for Honor Flight Savannah and said she registered him for the trip.
“I wanted him to have a good time and be able to see the memorials,” she said.
Wright also said he was excited about the trip and the chance to visit the memorials. He served in the Army during World War II, and later retired from the Army National Guard at Fort Stewart.
Lindgren, who has lived in Richmond Hill for about five years now, is excited to see the memorials. He served in the Navy during World War II and in the Air Force during the Korean War.
Hyatt, who served as a corporal in the Army during World War II, could not be reached for comment by press time.
Veterans travel to Washington D.C. cost free, Honor Flight Savannah board member and Army Reserve Ambassador Lou Carreras said, and added that veterans also receive complimentary t-shirts, food and travel packet.
Carreras said Honor Flight Savannah is able to provide a free trip for veterans through various donations. Carreras said some organizations have hosted bake sales to raise money, and that a Vietnam motorcycle group out of Savannah hosted a poker run that raised over $3,000 for the trip.
Priority is given to World War II veterans, and those who are terminally ill. Carreras said it gives the veterans one last chance to have camaraderie with other veterans.
“For a lot of them, this is the last major military participation in their life,” Carreras said. “As far as the military, this is sort of their last ‘hoorah.’”
Guardians accompany the veterans on the trip to ensure their safety, and two Richmond Hill residents, David and Eloise Aspinwall will be guardians on this trip. The Aspinwalls decided to be guardians on the trip when Eloise registered her father, R.L. Dixon of Patterson, Ga., for the trip.
“My husband saw the article in the Bryan County News and we were going to Dad’s that weekend, so I took the article and asked if it was something he’d like to do,” she said.
After Dixon said he was up for the trip, Eloise Aspinwall turned in his application. Dixon, who served as an Army tank destroyer in France during World War II, said he is looking forward to the trip.
Also joining the group as a guardian is Suddath’s grandson, Cooper Suddath, who said he’s looking forward to the trip as well.
The veterans will leave Savannah at 8 p.m. Friday and arrive at the World War II Memorial around 10 a.m. Saturday.
Carreras said the community is welcome to attend the departure ceremony that will be held beginning at 7 p.m. at the Air National Guard Base on Dean Forest Road north of 1-16. The Richmond Hill High School JROTC will participate in the departure ceremony, and the Ramblin’ Country Band and local swing dancers will provide themed entertainment. Festivities are free, but a photo I.D. must be presented in order to enter the gate.
Honor Flight Savannah began in 2008 and has taken over 125 veterans from the region to see the war memorials to date. This trip will total around 75 people including guardians, Carreras said.
Carreras said Honor Flight Savannah is always looking for veterans to go on the trip. The next Honor Flight trip will leave out of Charleston, and the next trip in this area will most likely be in the spring, he said.
For more information, please visit honorflight savannah.org.