Apr 24, 2013 6:16 PM by Ed McIntosh, Paul Humphrey
BILLINGS - They have been called America's "greatest generation" but most World War II veterans will tell you with quiet certainty they just did what had to be done.
Nearly seven decades after the guns fells quiet it was moving to watch each of these men and women step from the jetway to an open greeting of appreciation from mostly total strangers in Washington, D.C.
Most of the vets smiled, some cried, and some walked through stoically. That's not really surprising as most of these men and women speak seldom of the war, especially the hard times.
After all, they say, if you are talking about yourself you are either bragging or complaining; besides, they sometimes note, there was always another vet who was more deserving than they are.
The Honor Flight covers a lot of ground in a short 36 hours. Along with a short driving tour of D.C. we saw the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Korean War Veterans Memorial.
The Marines in the group were excited to see Marine Corps War Memorial.
The Honor Flight veterans also observed the ritual of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
And of course there was their visit the World War II Memorial.
As we made this trip with these World War II veterans we learned that this trip is somewhat about the sites, it's a lot more about the people, and mainly it is about the gratitude.
The vets received greetings from America's sons and daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who just stopped to say thank you for your service.
That was especially true at the overwhelming homecoming at Billings Logan Field.
These veterans never asked for thanks, never really expected it, but they never really knew how much they needed a thank you until they finally got one.