Honor Flight #19 Returns in Time for the Fourth

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COLUMBIA - WWII veteran Robert James took his first airplane ride early Tuesday when he flew to Washington DC with Central Missouri Honor Flight #19. He left alongside his brother Jim James. Since 2009, the Central Missouri Honor Flight has been taking veterans to see the Washington, D.C. war memorials dedicated to their service.

"It really means a lot to me for him to go... It is going to be a great experience but a long day," Korea veteran Jim James said. The two left the Courtyard by Marriott at 1:45 a.m. Tuesday with more than 60 fellow veterans.

After a day-long visit to war memorials in the nation's capital, the Honor Flight will return to Columbia just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, July 4.

Volunteer "guardians" accompany veterans on the trip. The James brothers' guardian, Jim Roberson, is participating in his seventh honor flight. Roberson said he has known Jim James very well after both living in Vienna, Mo. "I can't think of anything I would rather do for the Fourth of July," Roberson said.

"This one is particularly nice... because it is right before the independence holiday. Of course, we remember these men and women fought so hard for all these freedoms that were guaranteed to us on July 4," Central Missouri Honor Flight President Mary Paulsell said. "I think it is particularly poignant and emotional for a lot of them."

Honor Flight organizers encourage the public to welcome the veterans as they return to the Courtyard by Marriott early Wednesday. According to a press release from the organization, busses should return to the hotel at 12:50 a.m.