My father, USAAF Captain Thomas ‘Buck’ Bunn, flew B-29 bombers out of Tinian and then Guam and finally Okinawa during the battle of the Pacific in WWII. To commemorate their service, and to inaugurate the new Washington WWII Memorial, the survivors were flown up for the event.
Upon their return, those from my home town – Raleigh, North Carolina – were greeted with a parade.
My stepmother wrote and asked if I would write my father a letter, which was handed to him on the flight, just like his post had been delivered during the war. It helped a great deal to have this small connection to what was going on that day.
Isabella and I both lectured last week in Oxford, and could not get away. It was very hard not being there. But our absence was soothed immensely by the lovely letter which my sister-in-law wrote of the events. I would like to share her words with you. Pamela refers to my father by the name given him by the grandchildren – Daddy Buck.
Last night’s welcome home of Daddy Buck’s Honor Flight was a wonderful experience! We joined hundreds of others, many clad in red, white and blue, with flags, banners, balloons, and much patriotic cheer to welcome home the 100 WWII vets from their special day in Washington, DC.
They had arrived at RDU early yesterday morning and walked a red carpet, greeted by the governor, to board their charter flight to DC to visit the WWII Memorial. There was one care-giver for every three vets, mostly men, but with a few women, several in wheelchairs and walkers. The oldest was 95, and he received the flag flown over the capitol.
The inside corridor at the airport was lined with sailors in dark navy uniforms, and large flags. A band played from the 2nd story deck. Many in military uniform greeted, stood at attention, and kept people in place. We arrived well before 8:00, when the plane was to land.
We waited for over an hour, realizing that after the plane landed, it took quite a while to get all of the honorees through the terminal to the escalators. Suddenly people began to murmur.
Uniformed Marines marched down through the indoor tunnel/approach, followed by a band of bagpipers playing Amazing Grace. As the vets came down the escalator, they could see the hall was lined with servicemen and flags, but not beyond. As they walked (or were pushed) through the opening into the atrium of the airport, their faces were priceless, many with teary eyes and quivering lips as they beheld the hundreds who had come to cheer them on, say ‘thank you’, shake their hands, hug, and chant “USA, USA!”.
Lisa and I got choked up more than once. Daddy Buck saw us, came over for hugs, then proceeded on through the long, roped-off line to the end where Miss North Carolina greeted them (to the delight of many). He was very tired, but had enjoyed himself.
“Who? Where are you?” she asked.
“I can’t tell you, but remember what I said when you see the news tonight.”
I held her hands and told her I knew she was so proud of him. I have included a picture of her, her father, who had been on the trip to DC, and her husband, I presume, also a vet.
What a wonderful program this Honor Flights is, to take those who are the inspiration for our WWII Memorial, who are still alive and able to travel, to see that we do honor them. And this welcome back was quite a show. So many came simply to show gratitude for them, and for our freedom.
America, America, God has shed his grace on thee, and crowned thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!