June 06, 2012

Manchin Welcomes West Virginia Veterans to Washington

West Virginia’s first-ever “Always Free Honor Flight” Brings 31 Veterans of World War II, Korean and Vietnam Wars to D.C.

**Video, Audio Available**

Manchin accompanies veterans to memorials honoring their service 

Washington, D.C. – On the 68th anniversary of D-Day, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) proudly welcomed 31 veterans from West Virginia to the nation’s capital for the state’s inaugural “Always Free Honor Flight.”

The veterans visited the capital free of cost to see the memorials built in their honor. Twelve of them served in World War II, three served in the Korean War and 16 served in Vietnam. 

“It is such an honor to have these brave servicemen joining us here in Washington today,” Senator Manchin said. “I’ve always said that West Virginia is one of the most patriotic states in this great nation, and we are so proud of the number of veterans and active duty members who have served our country with honor and distinction. Showing our appreciation to the men and women who have served this nation is something we should do each and every day. But today is a special day for us to pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation.” 

The Honor Flight Network is a nationwide effort to ensure that veterans have the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. to see the monuments that were built to honor their service. 

Manchin welcomed the 31 veterans and their escorts to D.C. with a special edition of his weekly “Wednesday Wake-Up with Joe” coffee reception. He and Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) jointly hosted the group in the U.S. Capitol Building. After the coffee, Senator Manchin toured the World War II memorial with the group. 

On Tuesday, Senator Manchin delivered a speech on the Senate floor to recognize the veterans making the trip to D.C. for West Virginia’s first-ever Honor Flight. The “Always Free Honor Network” was brought to West Virginia by the Denver Foundation and Little Buddy Radio, located in Princeton.  These nonprofit organizations were founded by Bob Denver – who played Gilligan on “Gilligan’s Island” – and his wife Dreama, a West Virginia native. 

In the speech, the Senator said: 

“These heroes engaged in combat across the globe, fighting in the Aleutian Islands, England, Normandy, France, Germany, Luxemburg, the South Pacific, the Philippines, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Some served here at home, servicing aircraft with ammunition. Some served in historic events, such as the Battle of the Bulge, the liberation of the Philippines and the front in Japan. They took on different roles, serving as infantrymen, door gunners, ammunition soldiers, combat fighters, tactical fighters and medics. One brave World War II veteran received the Honor of Legion-Chevalier Award from the French Embassy. 

“These veterans come from all parts of our great state – from Welch to Beckley to Huntington to Princeton to Bluefield to Lester and all of the places in between.”

Manchin also recognized the volunteer escorts who accompanied the veterans to Washington. Three of the World War II veterans were accompanied by their sons, who themselves are veterans of the Vietnam War. Seven of the escorts were representing their deceased fathers who served in various wars throughout the years, including the organizers of this tremendous event: Dreama Denver and her late husband Bob, Charlie Thomas and Pam Coulbourne. 

Manchin encourages West Virginia veterans who are interested in participating in the “Always Free Honor Flight” to sign up for the next trip to Washington, D.C., which is scheduled to take place in October. 

Broadcast quality of the Senator’s floor speech is available here: 
HD Version – http://sdmc-media.senate.gov.s3.amazonaws.com/Manchin/060612_MANCHIN_1_FTP.M2T
SD Version – http://sdmc-media.senate.gov.s3.amazonaws.com/Manchin/060612_MANCHIN_1_FTP.MPG

YouTube video of the Senator’s floor speech is available here:

Audio of the Senator’s floor speech is available here: 
Download File: manchin-FLS 060512.mp3