Since 2009, Dunn businessman Irvin Warren has sponsored annual trips to Washington for World War II veterans to visit the national monument that honors them and their comrades who never came home.
This year’s trip will be in late October, and organizers are looking for WWII veterans who are willing and able to attend. Ray Stone, a Vietnam veteran and local veteran leader, said that 70 years after the war it’s getting harder to find veterans to go.
Stone has been on almost all of the trips sponsored by Warren, the president of Warren Oil Co.
“It’s a very meaningful trip for the WWII guys,” he said, noting that the memorial only opened in 2004. “A lot of them haven’t seen their memorial.”
In addition to the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, the trip takes veterans to Arlington Cemetery and the Korean and Vietnam memorials, among other sites. It’s akin to the “honor flights” that fly WWII veterans to D.C. to see the memorial, but the last flight from North Carolina took place in 2012.
Carroll Underwood of Newton Grove took part in the first trip Warren sponsored in 2009, and is one of more than 150 who have gotten the chance to go thanks to him. “Seeing the WWII memorial, dedicated to us veterans, it was something that I’ll never forget,” he said.
Seeing the WWII memorial, dedicated to us veterans, it was something that I’ll never forget.
Carroll Underwood of Newton Grove
Underwood, now 90, served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946 in the Pacific as an anti-aircraft gunner for an LST 666 landing craft. He said one thing he loved about the trip to D.C. was being able to connect with fellow WWII vets, especially veterans from the European theater.
“Listening to their experiences was very interesting to me because all of my duty was in the Pacific,” he said.
This year’s trip will run from the morning of Oct. 27 to the following evening. Veterans can bring a companion to help them along the way, and Warren covers all the costs for both of them.
“All expenses are paid by him,” Stone said. “You don’t need a quarter in your pocket when you go.”
Stone described the trip as relaxed and not rushed. Veterans get a chance to share their stories with fellow members of the Greatest Generation over the two days.
“It’s always such good camaraderie,” Stone said.
On the way back from D.C., American Legion Riders usually meet the bus at the Virginia line and escort it back to Dunn. Once in Dunn, the Dunn Police Department provides a motorcade escort back to the drop-off point.
“All in all, it’s an unbelievable trip,” Stone said.
Want to go?
If you’re a WWII veteran in the area or know of a veteran who would be interested in the trip, you can contact Ray Stone at 910-892-2810, or firstname.lastname@example.org.