San Bernardino WWII Veteran, Jack Hill Honored for Sacrifice
Los Angeles, CA
World War II (WWII) veteran and San Bernardino resident Jack Hill, 91 was among an elite group of veterans saluted by Honor Flight Network and Southwest Airlines.
Thirty-five veterans and their guardians took off from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Friday morning on an emotional, all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to their service and sacrifices.
“This is a great honor,” said Hill, a longtime Inland Empire community leader and master chef, known for his exquisitely catered private and government social events. Hill served 35 years in the U.S. Army.
Upon landing in D.C., Hill accompanied by his son Jimmie, fellow veterans, and volunteers visited several monuments and memorials in the U.S. Capitol, including the Arlington National Cemetery and the National Museum of the U.S. Navy. During the patriotic weekend, Southwest employees and customers waved American flags, and sang the National Anthem.
Sunday, the veterans and their guardians were given a hero’s welcome upon their return to LAX as military brass, hundreds of customers and well wishers filled a Southwest baggage claim area festooned with red, white and blue balloons and American flags. An emotional Jack Hill shook hands and thanked the cheering crowd. “This is a great day,” he said, his eyes filled with tears, “This is a very special moment.”
Since 2008, Southwest has donated thousands of tickets to the cause, helping to transport veterans to see the nation’s memorials each year. According to the airline, top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill. “We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. free of charge, to visit and reflect at their memorials,” said Debra Benton, Southwest’s Director of Community Relations and Charitable Giving. “Southwest Airlines is proud to support our men and women in uniform, and we give thanks every day for their sacrifices and the freedoms they have fought so hard to protect.” Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring U.S. Veterans.
“They stormed the beaches of Normandy, they braved German flak, and they fought on Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal and in a thousand other battles. Now the GI Joe’s of WWII are in the sunset of their lives,” according to Honor Flight’s Inland Empire website.
“Before too long they will all be gone. There is no way to really reward these heroes for what they did. We can never thank them enough but we can at least reward them with an all expense paid trip to Washington, D.C.”
Honor Flight of the Inland Empire California was formed in 2010. The organization relies on donations to continue its mission. Donations are accepted from all individuals. Honor Flight’s goal is to raise $150,000 each year, which is the cost of sending 150 veterans to Washington D.C. each year.