DALLAS - More than 60 World War II veterans from across the country are headed to Hawaii to mark 80 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor. A few are survivors of the attack.
Some veterans said they couldn’t sleep Thursday night. For many, it’s their first time back to Pearl Harbor in 80 years.
They arrived at DFW International Airport Friday morning with a police escort. The airport also held a parade in Terminal D.
About 60 WWII veterans made the trip. Ten of them are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Three are women and 12 of them are over 100 years old.
"We didn’t get much sleep, that’s for sure. I think for the last two days I haven’t had eight hours of sleep," said Charlie Levesque, a U.S. Navy veteran. "I’m anxious to see what it looks like after 80 years. It will be a little different. Like everything else, it changes."
Levesque traveled from his home in Albany, New York to make the special trip to Hawaii.
"I’ve been bombed, machine-gunned and everything else. When we’d pull in there, when we’d have to doc, they’d still cover over and still drop bombs," added Earle Bowers, Navy veteran Pearl Harbor survivor. "It’s just something good for me to do. Baby, I’m 101 years old."
For Nancy Wudtke, it’s a family affair.
She’s piloting the plane that is carrying all 63 veterans to Hawaii, including her father.
"He has not been back to Hawaii since he left in 1946. Coming from the Pacific, his last assignment was in Hawaii, John Rogers Field," she said.
The group making the emotional trip back to Pearl Harbor 80 years later were honored with a water cannon salute just before takeoff.
"I don’t know if they want to be considered heroes, sometimes this can be a little much for them," Wudtke said. "I know for my dad this sometimes can be a little much because that’s just what they did, they fought for our country."
American Airlines partnered with the Best Defense Foundation for this weekend’s honor of service and sacrifice of WWII veterans.