Veterans Voices

Bristol World War II veteran shares his experience on Honor Flight to Washington

BRISTOL, Conn. (WTNH) - Don Bird is a World War II veteran that calls Bristol home. He recently embarked on the New England Honor Flight to Washington DC, and shared his experience with News 8.

When Bird enlisted in the Navy, the decision to serve was evident.

"I just felt it was my duty," Bird said.

Now 97-years-old, a photo album his family made helps bring back memories of his time as a SeaBee in the Navy, a time that was a significant part of his life.

"We built airstrips and buildings. [Looking at another photo in the album] That's my brother."

Bird's brother had a little sailor uniform like his in that photo. When asked if his family was proud of him for serving, he happily replied, "Oh yeah, they were certainly."

For Bird, new memories are about to be made when it comes to the war, and his family. Forgotten heroes will be remembered, as Bird and his family join 40 other New England veterans on the New England Honor Flight.

The day starts at 6:00 a.m. with full patriotism on display. A fleet of Patriot Riders drove their motorcycles on a cold dark morning to escort them. Some displays were small, while others were large, like the fire department providing a grand entrance. For Bird and the other veterans, its the raucous welcome home celebration they may have never gotten, but deserve.

Hundreds of people gathered, waiting to surprise these veterans. Handshakes and hugs greeted them all the way from New Hampshire to Washington DC.

The first destination, the World War II Memorial. Bird seeing it for the first time.

"This is a beautiful thing. Yes it is. Unbelievable. Yup."

The SeaBees played a pivotal role in winning World War II. Their work allowed the movement of troops, planes, and cargo, but the land they worked on came at a high price, with heavy casualties. In a day full of emotion, it was a time Bird will never forget.

Then, as the Honor Flight experienced continued, the time came for Mail Call, just like their time in the service. Birds children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren all wrote him letters of gratitude.

"You have been such an incredible example of respect," one card read.

"I appreciate your service, but the best part of your service is that you met mom," one of the letters stated.

And Bird wants to make sure those who made this day possible know what it means to him.

"You people are the greatest people in the world. This is the nicest thing, and the greatest thing I've ever had."

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