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Indy Honor Flight Recognizes WWII Veterans
Updated May 9, 2014 9:15 AM
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(UNDATED) - Thursday came and went without much fanfare, though in Captain John Walter's younger years, that wouldn't have been true. That's because May 8th was VE Day.

VE means Victory in Europe. It's the day when the German army officially surrendered to the U.S. and its allies in World War II.

Walter, who is now 93 and lives in Indianapolis, knew Europe well - he flew B-17 bombers there during the war.

"I managed to get in 35 missions. I came home with some engines out and a lot of holes in the airplane, but no holes in me," Walter said a couple days before what some may consider his final flying mission - a trip to Washington on Saturday's Indy Honor Flight.

Walter and 69 other World War Two veterans will make the trip, the second of four flights planned for this year by Honor Flight, which pays for them through donations.

Unlike some of the veterans, Walter has been to the memorial before. "But the others, the Vietnam and Korean (memorials) and Arlington National Cemetery, I'd like to see those," Walter said. "I appreciate very much the opportunity to do that."

Indy Honor Flight is part of a national network of Honor Flight groups whose mission is to give all living World War II veterans a trip to their memorial before it's too late - the National World War II Museum says we lose a veteran every two minutes.

We almost lost Captain Walter during the war - flying B-17's was one of the more dangerous jobs in Europe, because for much of the war, they flew bombing runs without escorts from fighter planes.

"Our biggest concern (after I started flying them in September of 1944) was anti-aircraft fire. On my first mission, I lost my co-pilot to anti-aircraft fire."

Walter and the other veterans are grateful that groups like Honor Flight remember their accomplishments, though he worries about what future generations will remember about their work when the World War Two Generation is gone.

"There will be vestiges of it left, but maybe not in the full glory and the understanding of what it took to do what was done."

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