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Honor Flight Network salutes vets with free trips to Washington, D.C., memorials


Photo By: Charles So/Special to the Town Crier
Photo Charles So/Special To The Town Crier

Paul McGrew, World War II U.S. Navy veteran, traveled with the Honor Flight Network to Washington, D.C., to view the memorial honoring his service.

The nonprofit Honor Flight Network provides trips free of charge for World War II veterans who have never visited the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The visit offers the veterans an opportunity to reflect on their contributions, perhaps for the final time.

Paul McGrew, a World War II veteran and Los Altos resident for than 50 years, recently took such a trip with Honor Flight.

McGrew, 88, joined the U.S. Navy when he was 19 years old. He served during World War II and was stationed in the South Pacific on the Mindoro Islands in the Philippines.

During his service, McGrew saw action as part of the Aviation, Construction, Ordinance, Repair, Navy (ACORN) unit. An ACORN unit lands in potentially hostile territory and rapidly deploys radar and radio communications equipment, paving the way for an effective land-based operation.

The Honor Flight Network recognizes America’s veterans for their sacrifices, “paying a small tribute to those who gave so much,” according to the group’s website. Top priority is given to senior veterans – World War II survivors – and those who are terminally ill. Korean, then Vietnam veterans follow in sequence. The group salutes vets from around the U.S. with trips to Washington, D.C., to view their respective war memorials.

“Of all of the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as a nation – and as a culturally diverse, free society,” according to a statement from Honor Flight. “Now, with over 1,000 World War II veterans dying each day, our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out.”

Although nearly 70 years have passed since McGrew and his comrades fought in the war in the Pacific, the memories and camaraderie remain. He traveled with 31 other veterans from Northern California to the nation’s capital.

“I was so pleased, so happy and so delighted,” said McGrew of the trip. “It meant a great deal to everyone – a lot of the guys were very emotional.”

During the trip, McGrew said, the veterans were extended the utmost appreciation and respect.

“Senator Bob Dole was one of the greeters when we landed in D.C.,” McGrew said.

For more information, visit www.honorflight.org or www.honorflightnorcal.org.

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