A group of Kentucky veterans boarded a plane bound for the nation’s capital Friday morning, the first-ever “Honor Flight" to stop in Lexington.
Wheeled through the first security checkpoint by his son Barry, Cecil Grimes greets each face along the line.
"How are you today?" he asks, gathering up his IDs.
For this trip, Barry will be known as his father’s guardian, or one of the blue-shirted guides who shepherds veterans through the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War memorials in Washington.
Each will bring back its own set of memories for Cecil Grimes – who served in all three.
He graduated high school in 1942 and was drafted just a year later. And though he spent most of World War II serving in Italy, it’s when asked about D-Day that Grimes’ naturally upbeat demeanor takes a slightly more solemn turn. Witnessing the memorials up close will give him a chance to properly pay his respects.
"And I'm anxious to see them... and feel for the people who were at Normandy on D-Day because that was a tremendous type of battle," he says. "We lost so many military men in that. All services."
With the ranks of WWII veterans shrinking by close to 1,500 every day, Honor Flight’s mission is to grant that experience to as many former servicemen as they can before it's too late. All trips are free and the Bluegrass chapter has a backlog of close to 200. This flight is sponsored by equine feed company Hallway Feeds.
Friday night, the veterans will return home to the strains of bag pipers and a drum corps at Blue Grass Airport after a day that one organizer said is often full of tears, adding, "good tears."