The Norman Transcript

Features

October 20, 2013

Area veterans take Honor Flight to Washington

(Continued)

NORMAN —

“It’s a toxic situation in Washington. We’ve got to rise above that,” said state Rep. Gary Banz, a Midwest City resident who spurred the expansion of Honor Flights into Oklahoma.

The fountains were turned off at the World War II Memorial. It hardly mattered to the aging veterans who were seeing it, mostly, for the first time.

“I think it’s a great place and a sad place at the same time,” said Ken Hightower, of Oklahoma City. “It’s mixed emotions.”

Hightower was a pilot with Army Air Corps in the European theater. He flew 29 missions in three major campaigns.

“This brings back a lot of memories,” he said. “I don’t remember all the bad things. I try to remember only the good ones.”

Visiting the memorial had sobered even Hall.

“I watched the film on the bus ride from the airport and was almost in tears,” he said. “I think it’s beautiful, but so many lives were lost to get this.

“People don’t realize one of the things that always bugs me: I won’t own a Japanese car or anything else Japanese if I know about it because I remember the Bataan Death March.

“If we would run and tell people the exact truth about the Bataan Death March — guys were marching, one of them would fall down and the Japanese would just shoot him — they wouldn’t buy Japanese cars, either. I can’t forget the Bataan Death March.”

One of the touching moments of the visit to the memorial involved the Mason family of Spencer.

James Mason, a U.S. Army veteran, speaks little about the war, said his daughter and guardian, Paula Mason.

When asked at the end of the day about his journey, James Mason struggled with emotion.

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