Madras, Warm Springs veterans on honor tour to D.C.

Ten vets take county's, tribes' first trip to war memorials

POSTED: 8:26 PM PDT May 14, 2013    UPDATED: 11:05 PM PDT May 14, 2013 
MADRAS, Ore. -

Four World War II veterans, five Vietnam veterans and one who served in the Korean War -- all left Tuesday, ready for the trip of a lifetime.

"I'm 84, and I can't pass it up," Culver resident and Koran War veteran Malcolm Griswold said with a laugh Tuesday.

"They said, 'You can leave your billfold home,' so I decided I better go,"' said 90-year-old World War II veteran and long-time Madras resident Loyal Miller.

For many making the trip, it's their one and only chance.

"My health is slowly deteriorating. This is going to be, as they say, a trip of a lifetime for me," Griswold said.

The veterans from Jefferson County and Warm Springs are traveling together on an "honor tour" -- their first trip to the war memorials in Washington D.C.

"There's a lot of emotion in it -- whatever campaign you (veterans) come out of, whether you're a man or woman, you've seen people pass," said trip leader and Vietnam War veteran Michael Williams.

Miller said there's a special friend he lost in the war, and seeing his memorial is important.

"I'm going to look for it, 'cause I'd like to see it. Yeah, he was quite a guy," he said.

For Williams, a Vietnam War veteran, it's also about family.

"My father, my wife's father, the people that I knew in Vietnam that passed away. So I'll get a little rubbing of those (engraved names on the Vietnam Wall) , take it back and carry it with me," Williams said.

A chance to salute, a chance to honor, and a chance to find peace.

"I have PTSD from Vietnam, and I think it will help me," said veteran Leroy Ellis. "Some closure, maybe. I'm dealing with a lot of issues I've carried for a lot of years. Hopefully, this will help  some."

On the four-day trip, they'll see memorials, museums and  meet with lawmakers.

"For each one of us ,it will mean a little something different," Williams said.

Before they took off, they received a proper farewell from the Madras ROTC -- honoring their sacrifices in service and their commitment to their brothers and sisters in D.C.

The Bend Heroes Foundation is also taking a group of veterans to Washington D.C. this week  It's part of their biannual "Honor Flight." It will be the organization's seventh trip to the memorials. The Bend Heroes Foundation specifically takes WWII and terminally ill veterans.