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World War II veterans go to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II Memorial

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Lowell Armstrong accompanies grandfather, who is a World War II veteran
by Bryan Painter Published: April 22, 2012

Just last year, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Lowell Armstrong was on a plane taking him to a six-month stay in Iraq.

Back in 1999, he'd gone to Turkey. Then, in 2004, it was Pakistan. That was followed by Kuwait, from 2005 to 2006.

But last week, he boarded a plane bound for World War II, or at least the memories of the war.

The trip Wednesday was the first of five scheduled in 2012 for Oklahoma Honor Flights, a nonprofit organization created solely to honor Oklahoma's veterans for their sacrifices. At this time, the main emphasis of the program is to allow World War II veterans to see their memorial in Washington, D.C.

Armstrong, 37, made the trip to accompany a World War II veteran in his 90s named Bill Pummill, his grandfather.

Pummill, of Tulsa, a U.S Marine veteran, served in the Pacific Theater. He was on Iwo Jima for a time. He and Armstrong always had been close, but the grandfather never talked much about his service.

A few years ago, he wrote down memories of some of his World War II experiences and gave a copy to each of his grandchildren. Those stirred the interest of Armstrong, a graduate of Jenks High School, who is stationed at Air Force Space Command headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

Then Armstrong's father and Pummill's son-in-law, Chris Armstrong, of Tulsa, who served in the U.S. Navy during Vietnam, mentioned the Oklahoma Honor Flights.

The decision was made — Pummill would go as a World War II veteran and Lowell and Chris as chaperones to veterans.

So, Lowell Armstrong was asked, what was different about this plane trip?

“Experiencing this not only with my grandfather, but the rest of the veterans as they got to see the memorial that's dedicated to them,” Armstrong said. “What amazes me is the courage that they had. They knew exactly what they were getting themselves into.

“Some of them had to fake their age just to join the service because they felt it was their duty.”

Again, as World War II veterans have aged, the emphasis has been placed on ensuring they have an opportunity to go to Washington to visit their memorial.

The inaugural Honor Flight took place in May 2005.

A half-dozen small planes flew out of Springfield, Ohio, taking 12 World War II veterans on a visit to the memorial, according to the national organization's website.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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