Honor Flight Network
To find an Honor Flight: visit http://honorflight.org. Then click “Regional Hubs” and select a state you reside in. Next click on the hub site of your choice. Application forms and a schedule is on the site.
When Harry Scroggs was serving his country in the U.S. Army during World War II, he saw trucks loaded with fallen soldiers who paid the price of freedom with their lives as they were shipped home from the battlefield.
Nearly 70 years later, Scroggs stood with his son nearby admiring the site commemorating those soldiers’ service in Washington, D.C., last month.
However, the World War II Memorial didn’t come close to signifying how much those service members paid, Scroggs said.
“I wish I could show to the world what they did,” the 95-year-old Oakwood man said as his eyes got a little cloudy and his voice got a little shaky.
Scroggs journeyed to the World War II Memorial in the nation’s capital with his son, James Scroggs, who spent 38 years in the U.S. Air Force reserves. It was part of the Honor Flight sponsored by the American Legion in Conyers.
The Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit program created to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices by flying military men to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect at their memorials, according to the organization’s website www.honorflightconyers.com.
James Scroggs said he tried several years earlier to get his father aboard an Honor Flight, but it failed to materialize. He heard about the recent flight a little late, but a spot was available.
“He got priority on this flight, because of his age,” James Scroggs said.
According to the Honor Flight Network website, top priority is given to senior veterans, especially World War II survivors and veterans who may be terminally ill. This is because the WWII memorial was not dedicated until April 2004, nearly 60 years after the war ended, leaving many veterans without the opportunity or resources to see their country’s tribute to their bravery.
Harry Scroggs said his service to his country was nothing compared to those who fought and died on the battlefield.
“Those boys that I left behind deserve all they can possibly get,” he said.
Scroggs’ path with the Army began when he was drafted Sept. 15, 1942. After basic training, he was deployed and placed in the 94th Infantry in Gen. George Patton’s Third Army. He served as a communications sergeant, supplying the radio communications and telephone lines for the troops.
“We landed behind the D-Day forces and went all the way to Czechoslovakia,” he said. “We carried guns, but we were running the lines and keeping radio, telephone and teletype up for the troops.”
Following his service, Scroggs returned home and married Bea Gilstrap, who met him before he left. She had agreed to wait to marry him.
“I told her I didn’t want to make her a widow,” he said. “And she waited for me.”
Almost 70 years later, Scroggs’ wait to see a monument constructed in honor of the World War II veterans — including himself — was finally over. Scroggs boarded a plane May 14 with 25 other veterans bound for the nation’s capital.
Scroggs and son James left Oakwood close to 2 a.m. and arrived at the American Legion at 4 a.m. in Conyers. The veterans were then escorted by police to Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport. People lined the airport to show their thanks to the veterans.
“They were waving and hollering through the airport,” Scroggs said.
Once the plane landed in Washington, Scroggs and other veterans were ushered onto a bus and chauffeured around the city to see the memorials for World War I and II as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars. Stops were also made at Arlington National Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
“They treated us nice,” said Harry Scroggs, who was pushed around in his wheelchair by his son. “It was a sight to be seen.”
One sight James Scroggs remembered was children approaching his father and asking to have their picture taken with him. However, that wasn’t the most memorable in his mind.
“The detachment of people who serve at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier couldn’t recognize (the veterans) presence, but they told them to watch them,” the younger Scroggs said. “They dragged their right foot as an honor to them. It gave me chill bumps.”
And while Harry Scroggs was honored by active military men, James Scroggs said “it was a real honor” for him to accompany his father around Washington.
However, his father was honored when his sons elected to join the military.
“They both jumped in there,” he said. “It made me feel good.”
The 95-year-old also felt good when James retired from the Air Force as colonel after 30-plus years.
“I saw him retired,” he said. “It was real elaborate.”
But James Scroggs said the best day of his life was seeing his father being honored everywhere he went in Washington. The pair returned to Atlanta about 10 p.m. and arrived in Oakwood close to midnight.
“Even though it was a long day, it was very enjoyable,” James Scroggs said.