Beaufort County veterans head to DC in October for Honor Flight

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 16, 2012 

Dick Fordyce spent his 18th birthday in Korea as a machine gunner in the U.S. Army.

"I just never regretted a minute of it," he said of the three years he spent in the Army and the year he fought in the Korean War. "A lot of times I wished I was somewhere else, but all in all it was what I wanted to be doing. I asked to go there."

But it's not the Korean War Veterans Memorial he's looking forward to seeing most when he visits Washington, D.C., on an upcoming Honor Flight.

It's the National World War II Memorial.

His father served in the Navy during World War II, and growing up, Fordyce remembers saving scrap metal and doing anything he could to help the war effort.

Fordyce is one of 28 veterans -- and one of 10 from Beaufort County -- headed to the nation's capital next month with Honor Flight Savannah. Honor Flight brings World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington to tour war memorials as a way to thank them for their service.

The group will leave Oct. 19 by bus -- the program can't always afford to fly the veterans. They'll visit war memorials, meet generals and admirals from all branches of the military and see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

Fordyce said he expects the experience to be emotional. He was surprised to learn he would be going because he had offered to give up his seat to a World War II veteran if necessary.

"It's hard to believe that this is taking place," he said. "It's just a wonderful thing."

This will be the 11th trip for Honor Flight Savannah; 224 veterans have participated so far, the group's founder, Larry Spears, said. Spears said he got involved in the program because it's the right thing to do.

"It's just recognizing them for the unselfish sacrifices to the nation," he said.

Arnold Rosen, who is also going on the trip, expects it to be memorable, too. Rosen, who served in the Air Force during the Korean War, hasn't been to Washington in about 20 years. He's never seen the war memorials.

He said he's taking his camera and a tape recorder. He's written two books about the experiences of veterans now living in Sun City Hilton Head, and he doesn't want to miss a detail of this trip.

He's also looking forward to the camaraderie.

Carol Magathlin, media liaison for Honor Flight Savannah, said participants find the contact with fellow veterans and an appreciative public to be the most poignant moments on the trips.

"Almost every time I've been there, there's been another Honor Flight from somewhere," Magathlin said. "They recognize each other, and people from all over the world literally stop and tell them how much they appreciate them. The men often get tears in their eyes."

Related content:

Veterans who grew up in a hurry face emotional trip; April 7, 2012

Honor Flight Savannah

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