By David Wade, WBZ-TVBy David Wade

BOSTON (CBS) — They’re old now, and we’re losing many World War II veterans every day, but there’s an interesting program called Honor Flight New England that’s doing its part to pay tribute to the men and women who served nearly 70 years ago and saved the world from totalitarianism.

Mary and Clyde Hudnall live in Peabody now, but in 1945 they were both in the Navy, stationed in Guam. Mary was a flight nurse, evacuating the wounded from the fierce fighting on Iwo Jima. Clyde was a transport pilot flying the wounded to Honolulu and bringing in cargo and reinforcements.

“I felt it was my duty,” says Mary Hudnall.

WBZ-TV’s David Wade reports.

They are two of a group of 65 World War II vets to recently take an “Honor Flight” to Washington, DC to visit memorials to their service. Honor Flight, a non-profit, picks up the costs for the veterans. When they arrived in DC they were warmly greeted.

“A lot of people were there. Cheering us and thanking us and shaking hands. That was a great surprise for me. I had not expected that,” says Clyde Hudnall.

The visit to the World War II Memorial and the Iwo Jima Memorial were especially poignant for Mary.

“It brought back so many memories,” she says. One of those memories was a story about one of her trips bringing wounded off Iwo Jima.

“One of the boys on the plane had given me the sands from Mt. Suribachi, and he wouldn’t take the little bottle back. He said, ‘No nurse, you take it.’ He said, ‘Tell them what we did here.’ So I took it from him, and it’s been my treasure,” she says.

Honor Flight New England is trying to get as many World War II veterans like Mary and Clyde to Washington as possible.

That’s especially important given the ages of the veterans of that war. It’s their way to remember the service and the sacrifice, and to say ‘thank you.’

“We just had our fifteenth flight,” says Joe Byron, who started the New England chapter of Honor Flight in 2009. “To let them know that America still loves them, that we haven’t forgotten and we will never forget,” he says.

Mary and Clyde met while they were still in the service, but after the war had ended. This summer they’ll celebrate their 64th wedding anniversary.

Comments (3)
  1. KF4766 says:

    We need more stories like this! Thank you both for your service and happy anniversary You are an inspiration in so many ways.

  2. Tor Welch says:

    This is very interesting, as I am writing a book about the heroic Navy Flight Nurses who helped save so many Marines and soldiers from the Iwo Jima and Okinawa battlefields. There were only about 128 of them altogether, and they performed miracles getting the wounded back to Guam and Honolulu.

    These “Angels” were virtually unknown, mainly because World War II ended so soon after they performed so magnificently.

    The Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) pilots and crewmembers of VRE-1 and VR-11, who flew the wounded out of those hellholes also deserve recognition; but of course they never recieved it because their planes did not shoot guns or drop bombs. Just sayin’ . . .

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