'Honor Flight' takes 62 WW II vets to memorial

Posted at 6:03 PM, Apr 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-25 18:03:13-04

When Neil Ducharme laid eyes on his wife for the first time, he knew.

“Oh! Do I remember,” said Neil Ducharme.

"We went by the elevator and this lady come down. She had a blue dress on,” he said. “I told my buddy, 'I'm going to marry her.'"

Both are World War II veterans.

His wife was a Navy hospital apprentice and Neil was a U.S. Marine with the 6th marine division, an L3B, who lived through hundreds of kamikaze attacks and a rain of friendly fire metal to fly American colors after Okinawa.

"It was sheer torture,” said Ducharme.

"There wasn't a sound. It was dead silent,” he said when Marines took down the Japanese flag and put up the U.S. Flag.

The couple married just after the war.

But Neil lost his love of 69 years in February after helping her through a long illness.

"I'm making the trip for her and for the people who did not come back to pay my deepest tribute to them and to really tell them I love them and then I think that'll give me some closure,” he said.

The Palm Harbor veteran will get on a 5 a.m. plane tomorrow bound for our Nation's Capitol -- an honor flight delivering 62 World War II veterans to the D.C. World War II memorial to pay respects to lost friends.

"We will never forget, and you don't. They are, like to me, look at the sky at night and you see these stars. They are the stars up there,” said Ducharme.

Ducharme says he would've made the trip with his wife.

Tuesday he'll hop aboard the flight without her.

“I get to go to Washington, put my head down and say goodbye to my friends,” he said.

An honor he's waited faithfully 71 years to accept -- a true "Semper Fidlelis."