Posted: Jun 18, 2012 8:26 PM by Dax VanFossen - KAJ News
Updated: Jun 19, 2012 7:28 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C.- Almost 100 World War II veterans from Montana recently took a once-in-a-lifetime trip, receiving an honor 70 years in the making. The Big Sky Honor Flight made its inaugural trip to Washington, D.C, carrying Montana's most precious cargo, our heroes.
One man on the trip, Navy veteran Ron Scharfe, of Missoula, told a unique story. "I did the invasion of Iwo Jima, I was 16 years old with a fake birth certificate, then on April Fools Day we went to Okinawa, and I was too young to get out," he recalled.
"So Skipper said, 'Well, we'll send you home, Rondo, if you want but you're gonna get a chance to see something that guys who live 10 lifetimes have never seen. So we did, we did the occupation of Japan, we were the first guys into Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
The veterans were welcomed with open arms by our nation's capital. Stopping to take pictures with attractive women was a highlight for Scharfe.
"It's nice to see the younger generation come up and shake your hand, you know and remember us, cause I mean, pretty soon it's gonna be all forgotten, you know," Scharfe said. "So it means a lot to all the guys."
Bob Noll, a Marine from Missoula, fought in China. "It's emotional already, when you get off the plane and those young kids, and little kids and Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, they really were something," Noll said. "When I got to the kids I said give me the 5, so they all got a kick out of that, thinking, well that old dude want's to high five me yeah."
The overwhelming sentiment from the veterans that took part in the event was that the honor flight experience just couldn't be put into words until they saw it in person, but they felt honored.
Noll had another note about Washington D.C. "I think the traffic here is almost as bad as Reserve Street in Montana, in Missoula, yeah."
The Iwo Jima memorial was the final stop on the trip. Montana's News Station will air more stories from the Montana Big Sky Honor Flight trip Tuesday.