WINK News joins SWFL veterans for Honor Flight to war memorials

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Veterans boarding the Honor Flight to Washington DC. (Credit: WINK News)

WINK News joined a group of Southwest Florida veterans for a trip of a lifetime. The veterans spent Saturday in Washington, DC, seeing the memorials that honor their dedication to our country.

The day started dark and early as the veterans boarded a two-hour flight to Washington DC. The 85 veterans visited the memorials specifically made to honor their service.

When the veterans got off the plane, waiting for them was a hero’s welcome; American flags, applause and hundreds of handshakes.

World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and Cold War veterans soaked it all in.

There were smiles, of course, tears too. The emotion of this moment is a signal to us all about what the rest of this trip would be like.

A bus took everyone to the World War II memorial. 96-year-old Robert Bashaw served in the Navy and was at Normandy on D-Day in 1944 and was one of only four World War II veterans to make this honor flight.

World War II Veteran Robert Bashaw (Credit: WINK News)

“My father was in the Navy. World War I. He was a survivor. His ship was blown up by the Germans, and there were only two survivors. He and one of the officers. And he always said if you have to go into service, go in the Navy,” said Bashaw.

Bashaw said he followed his dad’s advice. “When I went in, I was 17. And my father passed away.” On his father’s deathbed, he asked his son to take care of his mother and four brothers and sisters.

Bashaw sent most of his Navy pay to his mom, though he kept enough cash for cigarettes and toothpaste.

At the memorial, his grandson surprised him.

“He was very surprised. It was good,” said Kevin Bashaw, Robert’s grandson.

It was truly life-changing to watch Bashaw see the memorial made to honor his bravery for the first time. WINK News asked what it meant to him. He simply said, “It’s beautiful.”

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