Special program takes WWII veterans to memorials at no expenses


One of Taft's World War II combat veterans has been chosen for a very special program that honors the men and women that fought for America.
Pete Gianopulos  left Friday for an all-expense paid visit to Washington D.C. and the World War II Memorial.
It's called Honor Flight.
Honor Flight is a special program that, for the past six years, has provided free transportation to World War II veterans to vist the memorial in the nation's capitol that was built in their honor.
Gianopulos, an army veteran who served in New Guinea, the Philippines and the occupation army in Japan at the end of the second world war, was surprised when he found out recently that he had been accepted into the program.
He received an application from his sister, filled it out, sent it in and then forgot about it.
Then,  a couple weeks ago, he received notification that he and an escort would be flying (all expense paid) from Los angeles for a three-day visit to Washington.
“I was shocked,” Gianopulos said Monday. “I couldn't believe it was  all happening. I forgot that I'd even  sent it in.
He said it's a great honor.
“I never dreamed that I would be selected,” Gianopulos said.
Honor Flight started in 2005 by Earl Morse, a retired Air Force captain working for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
As the population of WWII veterans ages and more and more die, Honor Flight has the goal of taking as many as possible to Washington to visit the capitol and memorial before they pass.
Gianopulos will be accompanied on the trip by an escort, his grandson, Ryan Grantham, 31.
Grantham's birthday is Friday, and Pete said this is going to be his birthday present.
After arriving at  Baltimore Washington International Airport, Gianopulos and Grantham will be met by an Honor Flight ground crew.
Gianopulos and Grantham will visit the  Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial,  Navy Memorial, Vietnam Wall, Iwo Jima Statue and Air Force Memorial.?They will also go to Arlington National Cemetery and watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of  the Unknowns.