WWII vets see memorial
Frank Seay can still remember the sounds around him and the choppy waters at sea as the USS Yorktown CV5 sank during the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942.
For the Tharptown native, it was just one of many close calls and experiences during World War II.
"We abandoned ship about 4 p.m. on June 4 (1942)," Seay said. "There were about 2,200 – 2,300 sailors aboard."
More than 66 years after that landmark battle, Seay has a hard time understanding why younger generations know little about it.
"That day, there was more tons of ships sank than at any other time in history," he said. "It amazes me that more young people don't know about it."
Seay, now 89, spent 20 years in the Navy, serving from 1937 to 1957.
Though he had been to Washington D.C. many years ago, he had never seen the World War II Memorial that opened in 2004.
"I haven't been there in 50 years or so," he said.
That changed on May 31, when he joined other WWII veterans on a trip to the capital.
"It was very nice," he said. "They really took care of us."
Honor Flight was initially conceived in 2004 by Earl Morse, a Physician Assistant and Retired Air Force Captain, to honor veterans he has taken care of for the past 27 years, according to the group's website.
The purpose of the organization was to fly veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honor their sacrifices. Honor Flight has flown more than 800 WWII veterans to the memorial.
Honor Flight Tennessee Valley was organized under the national organization, for the purpose of flying veterans from the Tennessee Valley area to and from the memorials free of charge.
Though Seay was just off the coast of Japan when the war ended and then spent more than a dozen years more in the service, he thought he would never see a memorial built in honor of those who served in WWII.
"I was glad to be able to go up there and see it," he said.
"I was proud to see all of the memorials."