S. Utah veterans view memorial

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ST. GEORGE — A couple of dozen World War II veterans from across southern Utah returned home Thursday night from the latest mission of the Utah Honor Flight.

The veterans and their guardians visited the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., Wednesday and returned to a celebration in St. George.

These Utah Honor Flights are emotional and full of history and memories for the veterans. The applause and honors they get wherever they go is a big part of the experience. They were not disappointed when they returned home.

These Utah veterans never got that welcome home when the war ended, but they got it Thursday night.

Camille Simonsen, the stepdaughter of a veteran, said, "This was a dream come true. This was one of the most awesome things that he would ever do."

The vets were showered with applause in the airports, too.

Roland Hall of Hurricane was a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division. He saw action in the Philippines and Japan.

"When we got to the monument, everything just seemed quiet and serene there, just really loved it," he said. The World War II Memorial gave him a chance to reflect on his contribution to his country.

"It gives me a great feeling because it's an example of the things that we were fighting for, and that we want to protect now,” he said.

Debra Caldwell, the daughter of a veteran, said, "Even those that didn't die in the war paid the price for the service that they gave. It's long overdue for us to honor them."

The veterans' experience is paid for by community donations. The mission rekindled memories and reminded them of the job they did.

Navy veteran Gordon Baker said, "Those days that we were in the service were some of the best days of our lives because we were there for a purpose."

One more Utah Honor Flight is scheduled for this fall. It departs at the end of the month.


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Jed Boal


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