U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a U.S. Army veteran and senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today welcomed 102 World War II veterans during the 9th Oklahoma Honor Flight to Washington, DC.
The Oklahoma flight program was established in November 2009. Today, the National Capital Region was visited by 102 veterans in the Oklahoma Honor Flight program and their families; while still over 500 World Ward II (WWII) veterans are on the active waiting list to participate in future honor flights.
During WWII, the state of Oklahoma became a hub for pilot training at Ponca City, Enid, Altus, Miami, and Oklahoma City. Oklahoma was not exempt from the catastrophic losses of the war and close to 5,500 Oklahomans were killed in action throughout the course of the war. Just last month, after nearly 68 years, U.S. Marine Lieutenant Walter Vincent whose plane went missing in 1944, was finally returned home to the U.S. and buried in Tulsa. Several prominent Oklahomans have become famous Generals and Admirals such as Clarence Tinker, Raymond McLain, and Marc Mitscher.
Today also marks the 68th anniversary of the D-Day Landings in the pursuit to defeat and regain lost territory from Nazi Germany. More than 209,000 were killed, wounded, or missing on the beaches and drop zones of Normandy, France during Operation Overlord, a number roughly 10% of the entire Allied force.
Senator Inhofe said, "It was an extraordinary honor to meet Oklahoma's World War II veterans today at the World War II Memorial. Their selfless service and dedication to duty ensured our nation's freedom and defeated the spread of the Axis powers. The State of Oklahoma was instrumental in the war efforts, and the non-profit Oklahoma Honor Flights organization is doing wonderful work to honor our veterans today by providing this trip so that members of the Greatest Generation can see their memorial here in our nation's capital. I am grateful for these veterans and their service, and it's essential that we never forget the courage and sacrifice they provided. I have participated in many of these events, and look forward to honoring more Oklahoma WWII veterans when they travel to Washington on their Honor Flights."