Stiefel said he is honored to be among recognized veterans included on the Honor Flight and is excited to make his first visit to Washington, D.C.
“I can’t wait to get there,” he said. Roy Stiefel registered his father for the trip, and will be among the guardians to accompany the veterans.
The Honor Flight program has been working to help WWII veterans see their memorial, which is dedicated to their service and sacrifice. The efforts carry urgency as hundreds of those veterans die each day, the organization’s website said.
World War II was the most widespread war in history with more than 100 million people serving in military units, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. About 16 million Americans served during WWII, the department said, and about 1 million, including about 54,100 in New York, are alive, though the number changes as about 555 die each day.
The Leatherstocking Honor Flight is among more than 100 hubs in the nonprofit Honor Flight Network providing trips to Washington for America’s WWII veterans free of charge.
The inaugural Honor Flight Tour took place in May 2005 from Springfield, Ohio, after the World War II memorial was completed in 2004, the organization’s website said.
Leatherstocking Honor Flight, based in Cobleskill, has taken more than 710 WWII veterans from 15 counties to Washington, according to the hub’s website.
Many veterans from the area have gone on Honor Flight trips.
Lewis was on the first Twin Tiers Honor Flight.
“It was wonderful.” said Lewis, who was quick to share a narrative of every stop and the personal attention that each veteran received. “I’m still living it.”
Lewis, who was accompanied by his son, Jim, said the Twin Tiers program took veterans to memorials for veterans of Vietnam and Korean wars, to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and to the Marine Corps memorial. Their buses drove by the Pentagon, and a guide pointed out where a plane hit the building on 9/11, he said.