FORSYTH COUNTY — Nick Youdell wanted to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., to honor his father, Edward, who served in the Navy during that time.
“I was 10 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and I remember vividly all the aspects of going through World War II,” he said. “I was 15 when the war was over and that was one reason I really wanted to get to the World War II Memorial — all those World War II guys, they were my heroes when I was a kid growing up.”
Like his father, Youdell, 82, ended up serving in the Navy also.
Thanks to his service during the Korean War in the early 1950s, the Cumming resident was one of 60 Georgia veterans chosen to take part in an Honor Flight to the nation’s capital on April 2.
The Honor Flight Network was begun several years ago as a way to honor World War II veterans who are passing away in rapid numbers every day. The program recently began accepting some Korean War-era veterans to also take part.
Any veteran of those eras can register for an Honor Flight, all of which depart from a number of “hubs” across the country, including Atlanta. Youdell’s Honor Flight group included 30 World War II and 30 Korea veterans.
Through the program, the veterans and volunteers are flown to the nation’s capital for a one-day, whirlwind tour of several sites, including the World War II and Korean Memorials, the Lincoln Monument, Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Due to support from various civic organizations, no veteran pays a penny to take part in the program.
Youdell, who has lived in Cumming with his wife of 56 years, Sue, for more than a decade, was one of several veterans sponsored by the Roswell Rotary Club to participate after being nominated by the Cumming American Legion Post.
A Roswell club member also served as Youdell’s escort for the day. Each veteran has his own volunteer to help him throughout the trip since no family members are allowed to accompany them.
Youdell, who served on destroyers in the Caribbean, England, Ireland and Scotland during his four-year stint in the Navy, said he felt honored to be chosen to take part in Honor Flight.
“Everywhere we went, people came up to us to thank us for our service,” he said.
The trip was also a way for Youdell, who is also active at the Cumming Veterans of Foreign Wars post, to pay tribute to the other members of his family who have served in the Navy.
“Our whole family is Navy,” he said. “My dad served in World War II, I did four years during the Korean War and our son, Mark, just retired five years ago. He did 26 years in the Navy, and his stepson is an officer.
“So we have four generations in the Navy.”