The Oklahoma Warriors Honor Flight program is an initiative that offers trips to Washington, D.C., for military veterans to experience the nation’s capital’s memorials and history. The most recent trip was Monday, with nearly 70 veterans flying from Oklahoma to Washington on a sightseeing trip.
Among the veterans who participated was Charles Henneke, 91, of Drummond, who served in the Korean War as a US Marine. He traveled with his sons David and Dale and described the trip as something he would never forget. Dale Henneke served as a tutor for his father, while David Henneke served as a tutor for a veteran who served in Vietnam.
Charles Henneke said he had only seen pictures of the monuments, but being there in person and seeing the scale was unlike anything he had seen.
” It was great. I had seen pictures of the Washington Monument and all that stuff, but it’s not like I saw them in person,” Henneke said. “It was truly indescribable. And as we walked through the cemetery, we saw where Audie Murphy was buried, and there are crosses everywhere you look.
They were able to see the White House and the Pentagon from afar, as well as many pillars of the country that have stood for hundreds of years.
“All the memorials we saw were just amazing,” Henneke said. “I can’t find the right words to describe it.”
Henneke said he never thought he would travel to Washington, DC to see the monuments.
“For me, I live in Oklahoma and here in the country, and I don’t go to places like that,” Henneke said, “and it’s just a trip of a lifetime for me. A trip of a lifetime. And seeing the veterans and seeing these monuments, I just can’t find the words for it.
He said it was a special trip to take with other veterans.
“Of course we didn’t have our uniforms or anything like that,” Henneke said. “You could hear other people describing their time in the service. They shared different stories, and some of them had been in service together and knew each other and talked about their time in service together. It was just a wonderful trip.
He said being able to experience it with his sons David and Dale was something. He said it was special to be able to make the trip with members of his family. Although it was a short trip in terms of length of stay in DC, there was still time to visit all the special sites. Henneke said seeing the U.S. Marine Corps Monument to the Flag Raised on Iwo Jima from World War II was his favorite part of the trip.
“I think the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima…that statue, I didn’t know it was that big,” Henneke said. “But it was quite a spectacle. The trip was a vacation of a lifetime. I can’t really describe how I feel. It’s something I will never forget.
The Oklahoma Warriors honor flights try to make two trips to Washington each year. The next one is scheduled for April 2023. For more information on the program, visit oklahomawarriors.org.