Grand Strand World War II vets prepare for final Honor Flight

Another group of Grand Strand veterans is preparing to head to Washington, DC for an Honor Flight.

But this one will be different than the six previous honor flights from our area. It will be the final trip for World War II veterans.

Honor Flight organizers say they're running out of World War II vets they can find from our area.

The Veterans Administration says about 1,000 World War II veterans die every day.

Still, 48 Grand Strand veterans from that war and 30 from the Korean War will board the chartered flight to the nation's capital April 16.

Among the vets at a pre-flight meeting in Myrtle Beach Wednesday was a former prisoner of war in Germany's infamous Stalag 17.

He says despite what you may think, life in the prison camp was good.

"So it was a lot of fun, if you didn't mind living that type of life. I learned to eat rutabagas!" laughs Eugene Rodgers, 90, from Little River.

Rodgers says he is anxious to see the World War II Memorial for the first time.

He wants to be there to honor his six fellow airmen who didn't make it out alive, when their B24 bomber was shot down.

"That was our 21st mission, so we were good friends, we knew each other. And I miss them all."

It's not just male veterans who will make the flight. Women had an important wartime role, too.

Nancy Harris will make the Honor Flight to see some of the places she knew well as a World War II Navy Corpsman.

"Going back to all the haunts. I've seen everything practically in Washington, DC over the years since I went there the first time when I was 15," Harris said.

Another female Honor Flight participant is a former Navy communications officer during the Korean War.

She's thrilled to see the nation's capital again, this time during peace, not war.

"I'm so patriotic that I think everything is going to be just absolutely wonderful," said Arlene Burch of Myrtle Beach.

Burch says she hopes the Grand Strand will follow the lead of other states and keep the Honor Flight program alive for Korean War vets.