December 10, 2009

Millard Blaine Takes ‘Honor Flight’ to WWII Memorial in Washington D.C.

People all across the United States paused on November 11th to thank veterans for their service to the United States. Sixty-five World War II veterans got an early “thank you” courtesy of the Honor Flight program.

Millard Blaine of Memphis was among the group of former soldiers that were guests of the regional charity on a one-day trip to Washington D.C. on November 10th to view the World War II Memorial.

“I never would have got to see this if I hadn’t taken that flight,” said Blaine. “I was so impressed. It is a mighty spectacular memorial.”

Blaine and his fellow guests also toured the Vietnam and Korean war memorials and other historic sites in the nation’s capital.

“There were boys like me from all across the state that came together in Columbia to make this trip,” said Millard.

The group along with several volunteers traveled by bus to St. Louis where they boarded a plane bound for Baltimore, MD. Another bus trip got them to Washington D.C. for the whirlwind tour of the memorials.

“Yup, all of this happened in one-day,” Blaine stated. “I was pretty tired by the end but it was a wonderful trip.”

While the veteran was impressed by the sites in Washington D.C. he was even more overwhelmed by the efforts of those that made the trip possible.

“Here we are on the way back home and they are trying to give each of us $10 to buy our supper with,” he said. “I didn’t pay a red cent for any of this wonderful trip and they’re still trying to make it even better for me. Of course I didn’t take the money, I think most of us felt the same way, that they had already done so much for us.”

Then there was the reception the veterans received along the bus route. When the bus got near Kingdom City it was greeted by a pair of Missouri State Highway Patrolmen, who escorted the veterans in full honor.

The honorees were outnumbered by 67 patriot motorcycle riders who created a parade formation along with the bus route to honor the veterans as they returned to Columbia marking the conclusion of the Central Missouri Honor Flight’s seventh trip to Washington D.C.

The national organization has numerous chapters in each state across the nation. For more information on Honor Flight visit www.honor flight.org.

The trip brought full circle the journey that started back in 1941 for Blaine.

With the military draft looming, Millard Blaine, like several other Scotland Countians, decided his best course of action was to enlist in the service.

“I volunteered in 1941 just like several other boys from Scotland County,” said Blaine.

His service was nearly disrupted before it ever got started. Baine’s father passed away the day he was inducted, meaning he could have chosen to return home.

Millard instead chose to honor his commitment to his country.

After Pearl Harbor, the national defense became an issue and Blaine and the 138th Infantry were stationed in the Aleutian Islands as part of the Alaskan Defense Command.

After 15 months of active duty he returned to the mainland with intentions of attending the Army Air Corp to become a pilot. But a backlog of future plane drivers changed his plans. After the death of his mother in 1945, Millard was discharged and came home.

After reaping the benefits of the Honor Flight program, Blaine has now become an ambassador for the program, working to inform other area veterans of the opportunity.

“I got a letter in the mail and my son called and put this together for me, or I may never have been able to see it,” Millard said. If there are any veterans out there that are interested in this, if they will send me their information I will get it to these folks so they can have a chance to see it too.”

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