WASHINGTON D.C. (WTOL) - More than seven decades ago, every day Americans joined the US military in extraordinary campaigns to bring peace to a world at war. More than 400,000 would never return. But those that did built the modern America and are rightfully proclaimed the Greatest Generation.
On Wednesday, 78 veterans and volunteers took off from Toledo Express Airport for what was called "one last tour, with honor" to remember their fallen brother-in-arms. When the plane arrived in Baltimore, the veterans received a hero's welcome by sailors of the United States Navy.
Before long, the veterans and volunteers were off to Washington DC.
Among the veterans was Oscar Oehmler, one of 15 WWII veterans on the trip.
Oehmler served as a Marine in the Pacific. When visiting the WWII Memorial, between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, the former Marine remembered images seared into his mind for seven decades.
"I'd say it brings a lot out to me," Oehmler said. "I'm thinking a lot. It takes me back to when I was in the service."
Oehmler was like many young men in America when he heard the news about the attack on Pearl Harbor: He enlisted to serve his country. Oehmler spent most of his time serving in the same hallowed place that led him to join the Marines.
Bill McKibben, a member of the Army Airborne in the Pacific, visited the memorial with his daughter Deb Downey. McKibben was overcome with emotion when his eyes focused on the Freedom Wall. The wall consists of 4,048 gold stars; each star representing 1,000 Americans killed during the war.
"It just tears me up to see what a waste it took to end the war," McKibben said. "Lost those boys. They never will come back here. They're still over there."
For nearly 250 years. good men lost their lives overseas preserving the freedom we enjoy back home. But as long as soldier put their lives on the line for the countrymen, veterans, like those who went on the "one last tour, with honor," will continue to dutifully honor their fallen brethren.
For more information on the next Flag City Honor Flight, follow this link.