SC businessman getting 1,000 vets on WWII flights - - Columbia, South Carolina

SC businessman getting 1,000 vets on WWII flights

Veterans visit Washington, DC Veterans visit Washington, DC
Bill Dukes Bill Dukes
Veterans on a previous Honor Flight Veterans on a previous Honor Flight

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina businessman Bill Dukes has put nearly 1,000 elderly military veterans on planes to Washington in the past two years to see the memorial dedicated to their military service.

On Wednesday, the 235th birthday of the Marine Corps, Honor Flight of South Carolina sponsored its 10th trip, marking more than 1,000 vets making the journey.

Dukes says a 2008 visit to the National World War II Memorial with his father, a veteran of the war, was a time of remembrance and reflection for both. His father served in the Pacific and earned a Purple Heart.

Dukes says he returned from that visit committed to getting any other veteran who wants to see the monument to Washington, saying the nation owes it to them.

The veterans are given a heroes' welcome when they touch down in Columbia, complete with a band, flags and a cheering crowd.

According to the organization's website, there are 180 veterans on the waiting list to take the trip.  The average ago of those vets is 88.

The next journey is scheduled for April 27, 2011. If you'd like to contribute to Honor Flight South Carolina, you can call 803-582-8826 or click here.

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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