Music City Honor Flight: May 8, 2013

Zearl Black - GWRRA

The Music City Honor Flight is a program honoring WWII Veterans. This program flew over 100 veterans on an all-expense paid flight to Washington D.C. to see the memorial built to honor them. I’m thrilled to have been selected to go on this flight, which was an all day trip.

My daughters, Darlene Black and Virginia Wren, took me to the airport at 6 a.m. We found hundreds of people there to thank us for our service and wish us well. We saw many military uniforms, representing all branches of service. National and local organizations sent representatives, including our own Paul Tampien representing the local USO. The Patriot Guard Members stood at attention as we passed.

We breezed through security by showing our boarding pass and ID. Then we were served a breakfast at gate B-6. Here we had about an hour to eat and meet others going on the flight. Channel 4 and 5 each sent a reporter and a photographer to accompany us on the trip. There were many pictures and interviews. Channel 5 is to get back to us about when they will be airing the program.

A guardian was appointed to each veteran. My guardian was Susan Taylor, and her two veterans were her uncle Jack Redden and me. Her job was to make sure we did not wonder off, and to see to our every need. Wow! She was there for us.

We boarded US Airways Air Bus No. 321 (187 passengers and a crew of six). As our plane taxied from the tarmac, the Nashville Fire Department gave us a water salute, which is water arches over the plane from both sides. They also did this at the Washington airport. And there were people on each side of the corridor as we walked to the lobby. All were cheering, waving flags, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service.

Our “blue team” boarded one of the four buses, and we were off. Our host and tour guide pointed out the Washington Monument, the Pentagon, the Capitol and other points of interest along the way to the WWII Memorial. Wow! What a beautiful and lasting tribute to those who served and the 400,000 men and women whose lives were lost in service.

We then got back on the bus for a box lunch and a trip to the Vietnam, the Korean and the Lincoln Memorials. After that we toured the Air Force Memorial. Impressive!

We arrived at Arlington National Cemetery in time to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown. During this ceremony the audience was very quiet. The only sound we heard was the clicking of their heels as they executed the change in perfect cadence.

At the Washington airport, again, there were crowds of people at the entrance, along the corridors and at the gate to see us off.

Upon arrival at Nashville at 9 p.m., we were each given a shopping bag containing several gifts, some even handmade. More people were cheering and thanking us as we made our way to the parking lot to head home after a long but very enjoyable day.

I’m so happy to have been selected to make this trip. Awesome! Seeing the various memorials, reading the inscriptions carved in stone to last forever and realizing that they were meant to be a tribute to all who served created in my mind a sense of closure that I did not realize I needed.

Thanks for your interest in my military experiences. ~Zearl Black

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