World War II, Vietnam and Korean War veterans from central and southern Illinois received the trip of a lifetime – the reason? To honor their service. The Land of Lincoln Honor Flight took a plane packed full of veterans and their guardians on a whirlwind trip to Washington D.C. to see the memorials – hundreds packed Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport to welcome them home Tuesday. It was all a bit much to handle for Garland Ash of Macomb, a World War II veteran. “You can’t believe it is all,” Ash said, surrounded by several family members including son-in-law Steve Harvey of Chatham, who served as Ash’s guardian on the trip. “I don’t know how they knew this trip was coming back in.”
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Ash, an Army staff sergeant who says he saw a lot of action in the Pacific, says seeing the Memorials was great… that’s about all he could say, as the outpouring of support was a bit much. “I can’t speak,” Ash said after several pauses. Gov. Bruce Rauner was on hand and could speak. “It’s one of the great American traditions,” Rauner says. “This is everyone in the community coming out to welcome home our service men and women who risked their lives to defend our freedom and our democracy. It’s a wonderful thing.” The Land of Lincoln Honor Flight serves much of central and southern Illinois.