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WWII vet honored with exhausting, but 'important,' whirlwind trip

Walter Thompson, 91, travels to DC memorial for Honor Flight trip


by: COURTESY PHOTO - Veteran Walter Thompson, 91, from Scappoose, recently traveled to Washington D.C., to visit the World War II memorial with a group of 47 other veterans. The tour was made possible by the Honor Flight network, which allowed the veterans to travel for free.WWII veteran Walter Thompson is resting from a whirlwind weekend.

In four short days, the Scappoose resident hopped a nonstop plane to Washington D.C., toured everything from the Lincoln Memorial to the World War II memorial, jumped back on the plane and landed at home late Sunday night.

Even for a person in their 20s, that's a lot of activity. For the 91-year-old World War II veteran it was exhausting.

But important, he said.

“It's something he's glad he didn't miss,” said his wife, Elaine, who traveled with him.

She applied for the all-expenses paid trip through the Honor Flight Network, which flies World War II veterans from across the United States to Washington, D.C.

Walter Thompson, who spent six years in the Navy and 15 years in the National Guard, was one of 47 veterans to travel from Oregon to Washington, D.C., last week. Though some of the men were wheelchair-bound and others required walkers, they saw an impressive number of sights.

They were welcomed at the airport by an honor guard holding flags and standing at attention.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” Elaine Thompson said. “Walt saluted them all the way down through the flags.”

He had been aboard the USS Lexington when the battleship moved out of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 6, 1941, a mere day before the harbor was attacked by the Japanese.

The disaster Thompson narrowly missed that day caught up with him several months later when the Lexington, crippled by Japanese aircraft, sank. He survived the war and, afterwards, decided to join the National Guard which enabled him to travel the country and now provides for his medical needs.

“He did a really smart thing,” Elaine Thompson said. “But at the time I was so mad.”

Wandering through museums in Washington, D.C., looking at equipment he used to use in his Navy days, “it brought back a lot of memories,” said Walter Thompson.

“It was emotional,” he said about the men and women commemorated at the different memorials. “I didn't help that much, but they did.”