Oklahoma World War II veterans recognized at veterans center in Norman

On Friday, with Veterans Day around the corner, leadership students of Noble High School, including Allen, visited the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Center in Norman. There, they were paired with 121 World War II veterans.
by Bryan Painter Modified: November 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm •  Published: November 11, 2013

Youth tenderly held the trembling hand of history.

Bayley Allen, a junior at Noble High School, ran her right thumb over the 87-year-old left knuckles of World War II veteran James Brown.

Allen is 16 years old. That's only two years younger than Brown was when he began serving as a U.S. Army soldier in Europe.

“We're the best of friends,” Allen said. Asked how long they'd known each other, “About 20 minutes,” she replied.

The Oklahoma Honor Flights program strives to allow veterans, primarily those of World War II, to see their memorial and other monuments in Washington, D.C. That program took four flights this year. The “Operation 4G” program also took flight this year.

The four Gs stand for “Giving to the Grounded Greatest Generation.”

On Friday, with Veterans Day around the corner, leadership students of Noble High School, including Allen, visited the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Center in Norman for an “Operation 4G” ceremony. There, they were paired with 121 World War II veterans.

That included Brown, who looked at his new friend and said, “I wasn't but a kid when I went to war.”

“I'm just so happy they are still here,” Allen said. “He was 18. I can't imagine me in two years going and doing that. I don't think I could.”

Honor Flights

The first Oklahoma Honor Flights trip was taken in May 2010. In all, there have been 15 flights with 1,433 veterans having participated. But not every veteran is physically able to make the trip to the nation's capital to visit the memorial.

“The board of directors recognized that the day is fast approaching when doctor's orders and individual circumstances will prohibit World War II veterans from traveling,” said Gary Banz, executive director of Oklahoma Honor Flights. “However, there will still be World War II veterans who live among us. They, too, should be recognized.”

So while the program's flights continue — as long as there are World War II veterans requesting the flights and funding is available — they have decided to hold special events at each of the seven long-term care Veteran Centers supported by the state of Oklahoma. The state Veterans Affairs Department lists just under 500 World War II veterans living at the centers in Lawton, Norman, Claremore, Clinton, Sulphur, Ardmore and Talihina, Banz said.


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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