World War Two veteran Dail Martin took to the skies on the Land of Lincoln Honor Flight Sept. 4.

“We had a full day and a great time,” Martin, of East Peoria, said. “The flight was very nice. I got to meet a lot of veterans. Most of them were from the Korean War.”

There were 97 veterans and 67 volunteers on the flight, which went from Springfield to Washington, D.C., and back in one day.

“The whole trip was very impressive and well-organized, especially for how many people were there,” Martin said.
“There was a WWII veteran who was 99 and one that was a prisoner of war during WWII. I am 85 years old and was probably the youngest or one of the youngest veterans.”

Martin said the WWII Memorial was what made him decide to apply for the flight.

“I had read about it in an article in AARP Magazine and saw about it at the (Veterans’ Affairs) clinic,” Martin said. “I decided that I hadn’t seen the WWII Memorial so I thought it was time for me to go. My oldest daughter (Karen Martin) went with me.”

While in Washington, D.C., the veterans visited the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the Air and Space Museum, the Iwo Jima statue and the Air Force Memorial.

“I think the main thing that was my favorite of the whole trip was the memorials themselves,” Martin said. “They did the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery too and that was really impressive.”

Besides being impressed with the other memorials, Martin said the one he went on the trip to see, the WWII Memorial, was well worth the visit.

“The memorial was fantastic,” Martin said. “Every state was represented as well as the provinces. It was a huge place on 7-and-a-half acres between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Memorial.

“At the memorial itself, they read off a list of names of veterans that we wanted remembered who weren’t there. I have three brothers who were also in the Navy during WWII whose names I had them read.”

Seeing the memorial for the first time, Martin said, brought back a lot of memories.

“I was in the Navy from Aug. of ‘44 to July of ‘46,” Martin said. “I was then in the active reserve for six years after that.”

After a long day of seeing the sights in Washington D.C., the veterans loaded on the plane and headed back to Springfield.

“On the flight home, we had mail call where they gave us a bag of mail, cards and notes from our family and friends to read. I had mail from everybody from all over including Chicago, Florida and California.”

When Martin returned to Springfield, there was a crowd of friends and family waiting for him and the other veterans, including Sue, his wife of 62 years.

“It was a big surprise to see my entire family from the area at the airport,” Martin said. “I even had a granddaughter from California who is a traveling nurse who got in that day and was there.

“At the airport, everybody was lined up and we went down the aisle shaking hands and talking to people. They even had someone there playing bagpipe music for us.”

With so many things to choose from that made the day a success, Martin could not pick a clear, particular favorite.

“The special thing about the flight was just getting to do it,” Martin said. “There were a couple hundred people there to welcome us back at the airport, which we didn’t know would happen.

“Any of the veterans should sign up for it. It is a very impressive trip and a great time.”