Air Force Honor Guard Honors Veterans at the WWII Memorial

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Esther Willett
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
A member of the United States Air Force Honor Guard joined with sister service counterparts on a Joint Service Color Team to pay tribute to World War II veterans at the National World War II Memorial today.

86 World War II veterans from Chicago attended the Wreath Laying Ceremony with the Honor Flight Chicago, which was founded to recognize veterans by flying them free-of-charge to Washington D.C. for a day of honor, remembrance and celebration.

Airman Dustin White, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard member, noted the challenges and struggles faced by World War II veterans made participating in this event special. Performing with members of other services is also a highlight for White.

"It's always unique to get to work with people of different backgrounds and hear their side of the story rather than just your own," said White. "We get to meet people and hear what our service means to them. It's something you'll never get to experience anywhere else."

The members of the Joint Service Color Team performed for a diverse audience of World War II veterans from all four military services and the U.S. Coast Guard.

"I think it's a great idea to have something like this," said World War II Marine Corps veteran Ernie Yamartino. "People reminisce and realize that what they did meant something. It wasn't just a date on the calendar."

The Honor Flight Chicago has taken 66 trips from Chicago to connect veterans with their memorials in Washington D.C.

"The average age of the veterans is 91 years old. Physically doing a trip like this on your own or with your family is quite challenging," said Andre Ammelounx, an Honor Flight staff member on his 59th trip with the team. "We are bringing World War II veterans to Washington to have a day at their memorial."

143 volunteers including supporting staff and medical personnel travel with the veterans to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
"There were 16 million that fought, and there are only 850,000 left. More than 500 pass away every day," said Ammelounx. "My goal is for this to succeed, and that's why I'm a part of it."