In their honor
Red Bay family pays tribute to veteran
The trip to Washington, D.C., was full of sights and sounds that Clyneice Ledbetter and her son, Roger, were thrilled to see.
There was the White House, Capitol building and the Washington Monument. She saw the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall, but sill, there was something missing.
The missing piece to her special trip to our nation's capital was her husband, Robert Elton Ledbetter, Jr.
The World War II veteran was scheduled to take part in the September Honor Flight which is sponsored by a Huntsville-based group and who takes WWII veterans to see the monument erected in their honor in Washington.
Ledbetter, who was 87, died in May, just four months before he was set to make the trip.
His wife, Clyneice, and son, Roger, decided to make the trip in September.
"We couldn't go on the Honor Flight with them so we went on a few days ahead of time and met them up there," Clyneice Ledbetter said.
"It is something Robert would have loved to see."
Robert "Junior" Ledbetter was one of millions of American men and women who never lived long enough to see a memorial built in their honor in Washington, D.C.
The memorial, which opened in 2004, serves as a reminder of the great sacrifices made by what has been called "the greatest generation."
Ledbetter, who served in the China-Burma-India Theater in the US Army Air Corps, enlisted in 1944 and served as an aircraft engine mechanic.
His wife of almost 62 years vividly remembers those days and the many years thereafter.
"I met Robert right after he got back from the war," she said. "He came back in June and we married in September."
Clyneice said her husband chose not to talk about the war and the things he saw often, but he was always proud of his service to our nation.
"He didn't talk about it," she said. "He just always said that 'freedom is not free.' I don't know too many people who go off to war and like to talk about it. But he was real proud to have done what he did."
The Honor Flight ceremony at the WWII Memorial gave a proud widow the chance to honor her fallen soldier one more time.
"The ceremony was so beautiful," she said. "It seemed like he was there with us. He would have loved to have seen it."
The Ledbetters children, Roger, Lennis Sewell, LaQuetta Graham and Wanda Nelson, all took part in a family ceremony in Huntsville that September day when the flag that flew at the monument during the Honor Flight service was presented back to them.
"He was looking forward to going up there," Ledbetter said. "I wish he had made it. It's something that would have meant a lot to him."
As it would have for all veterans.