Manchin Welcomes West Virginia Veterans to Washington
West Virginia’s “Always Free Honor Flight” brings 30 veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to D.C.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) proudly welcomed 30 veterans from West Virginia to the nation’s capital for the fourth “Always Free Honor Flight.” Senator Manchin provided each veteran with a Congressional Record Statement to recognize the veterans’ trip to Washington, D.C., which included a tour of the Capitol and visits to the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial.
“I am so pleased to welcome West Virginia’s courageous veterans, who are all heroes, to Washington, D.C.,” Senator Manchin said. “It is because of their bravery that all Americans enjoy the greatest liberties and freedoms in the world. As I’ve said time and again—West Virginia is one of the most patriotic states in this great nation, and we are so proud of the many citizens who have served and who are actively serving in the military. The 30 veterans participating in today’s ‘Always Free Honor Flight’ truly embody the Mountain State’s history and contributions to safeguard America’s freedoms.”
Of the Honor Flight veterans, five served in World War II, nine served in the Korean War, and 16 served in the Vietnam War. They were accompanied by nine volunteer guardians, the President of the Denver Foundation and Little Buddy Radio, Dreama Denver, and the “Always Free Honor Flight” organizer Pam Colbourne, in addition to volunteers and medics.
The Honor Flight Network is a nationwide effort that raises funds to ensure veterans have the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. free of cost to see the monuments that were built in their honor.
In West Virginia, the “Always Free Honor Flight Network” was established thanks to the Denver Foundation and Little Buddy Radio, located in Princeton, West Virginia. These non-profit organizations were founded by Bob Denver – who played Gilligan on “Gilligan’s Island” – and his wife Dreama, a West Virginia native.
To view photos from the “Always Free Honor Flight,” please click here.
To view a video of Senator Manchin welcoming West Virginia’s veterans, please click here.
Senator Manchin wrote in the Congressional Record Statement:
M. President, today I am incredibly honored to rise and recognize a group of 30 heroic military veterans who have traveled from southern West Virginia to visit our nation’s capital as part of the fourth Always Free Honor Flight. On the occasion of their visit, in which they will see for the first time the monuments built in their honor, I want to express my utmost gratitude to these special men and women for their extraordinary bravery and patriotism, and for their noble sacrifice to help keep our country free.
I have said this time and time again—West Virginia is one of the most patriotic states in this great nation. With one of the country’s highest per capita rates of military service members and veterans, we are so proud of the many citizens who have served and who are actively serving in the military. The 30 veterans participating in today’s Always Free Honor Flight truly embody the Mountain State’s history and contributions to the safeguard of our American freedoms.
Our special West Virginians visiting today represent three generations of warriors—five served in World War II, nine served in the Korean War, and 16 served in the Vietnam War. They range from 63-90 years of age, and have traveled from all parts of our great state – from New Martinsville to Bluefield, Huntington to Princeton to Beckley, and many places in between. In addition to our Mountain State vets, two veterans from bordering Bland and Tazewell Counties in Virginia have accompanied their West Virginia neighbors on the day-long adventure.
M. President, I especially want to recognize our two women veterans who joined today’s honor flight, both of whom are the first women to make the Always Free Honor Flight trip. Helen “J” Wheby served in the Korean War as an office worker in the Navy. Vanda Jane Butcher served in the Vietnam War with the rank of a Seaman as a part of an air flight crew in the Navy. Despite the challenges, sacrifices, and hardships they faced while defending this nation, these women voluntarily stepped forward and put service above self to preserve our freedoms. We cannot thank them enough for their tremendous courage and their sacrifices.
Showing our appreciation to those who have served is something that we should do each and every day, but today is a special day to pay tribute and thank those who have volunteered to put their lives on the line for our freedoms. The memorials our Honor Flight participants will visit today serve as an important reminder to us all that our freedoms and liberties come at a steep cost. However, I know our veterans will find special meaning and potentially long-lost emotions when they tour such touching sites.
The brave West Virginia heroes today have all served this country in a variety of ways, working both at home and abroad. They have engaged in combat all over the world, traveling to the Panama Canal, working on the docks of Saigon, and serving in historic events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis. One of our visiting Vietnam veterans, Stephen Douglas Phillips of New Martinsville, earned not just one, but two Purple Hearts. Another, Gary Curtis Harold of Shady Spring has received both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
But regardless of their rank or duty, each and every one of these veterans answered our nation’s call and has served with incredible pride and valor.
Additionally, I would like to recognize the nine volunteers, or so-called “guardians,” who have accompanied the veterans during their trip today. These guardians have selflessly given their time to travel alongside our veterans all the way from Princeton, West Virginia to Washington, D.C. to share this very special journey with them.
I am also tremendously grateful for all those involved in the Always Free Honor Flight Network, especially the president of the Denver Foundation and owner of Little Buddy Radio in Princeton - Dreama Denver. Along with Coordinator and Executive Assistant, Pamela Coulbourne, Dreama launched the Always Free Honor Flight and has planned four trips within a two year span for our West Virginia veterans. I commend Dreama, Pam, and all the Denver Foundation staff for their dedication and commitment to West Virginia’s large veteran population. They have offered the people in West Virginia just one more way to say ‘thank you’ to our veterans for their service and sacrifice.
M. President, I am filled with pride every time I meet the patriots who have served our country, and I am so pleased to welcome West Virginia’s most courageous veterans, who are all heroes, to Washington, D.C. I encourage all of my colleagues to join me in saluting them. They truly inspire us all as we are reminded of their selfless service. It is because of their bravery that all Americans enjoy the greatest liberties and freedoms in the world.
God bless all our service members and veterans, God bless the great state of West Virginia, and God bless the United States of America.
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