Hoosier Heroes: Local veteran ready for special ‘honor flight’ to DC

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Later this week, a local World War II veteran will take the trip of a lifetime, and it’s a trip that’s years in the making.

Named after a former president, Woodrow Wilson Hairl served under General Patton in France and Switzerland.

“I lied to get in (to the service) because I wasn’t old enough,” said Hairl. “I wasn’t but 16 years old.”

These days Hairl doesn’t have much from his time in the service–just an old duffle bag from the war and a picture someone made for him. But what he still has are his memories.

Now he’s 87, but in all his years, he’s never been on an airplane, but now that’s about to change.

Hairl is headed to Washington DC on Saturday for a special ‘Honor Flight’ to see the World War II memorial.

Not long ago, FOX59 went along for the ride with some other local veterans–they go there and back all in one day–and come home to a hero’s welcome.

“I think it’s a blessing, it’s beautiful,” said Hairl. “It brings a lot of my old memories back and why a lot of us died for this.”

“A lot of these guys, these World War II veterans, did not have a proper homecoming,” said Debra Des Vignes with the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation. “So this is a homecoming for him. Not only does he get to take his first flight, he gets to come back and have a proper welcome home.”

And it’s all thanks to a volunteer who nominated him at the HVAF facility in Indianapolis, which helps feed and clothe veterans in need.

“I never had this opportunity before to see the things that I’m seeing now, and that is something in history I will never forget,” said Hairl. “America is the best country we could live in, and I appreciate it.”

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