WWII Veteran to board 6th Honor Flight to Normandy
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -A WWII veteran is getting a hero’s send-off Wednesday as he heads to Normandy with Honor Flight of the Ozarks.
Jack Hamlin first took off to Normandy at just 22 years old when he boarded a coast guard cutter to rescue soldiers during the D-Day invasion. Now almost 80 years later, he will return to be honored for his service.
On June 6, 1944, Hamlin was terrified of what was to come. His job was to jump into the 46-degree waters of the English Channel to pull injured soldiers to safety and return them to the hospital ship. Jack and other members of the coast guard would save more than 1,400 lives that day. Jack will tell you he was just a lifeguard, but others will tell you he’s more than that.
“He’s my hero,” said Dr. Norman Knowlton who is accompanying jack on this trip. “You think of all the people in the world that you have. My father was in the military during World War Two. My father-in-law was a captain in the artillery and he was in Europe. I’ve been involved with the Honor Flight. It’s just a privilege to be around veterans. Jacqueline’s, my patient. I’ve had the opportunity to learn stories from him. And it’s just an honor to be able to go with him and be able to participate in this.”
Jack has been back to France several times to be honored for his service. He received the French Legion of Honor and was recognized by the Queen of England.
On this trip, he will visit a number of memorials and museums honoring those who served in WWII. He will attend several celebrations and dinners throughout the trip and visit with French schoolchildren. All of Jack’s trips have had memorable moments but he says the best part is meeting all the people.
“I can’t distinguish anything about the trips,” said Hamlin. “The people to the veterans are just extraordinary. They’re so thankful. Everything we do. You can’t go anywhere. If they stop you, and buy you doing anything you want, I could. It takes me two or three drinks. That’s all I need. But then you sit with them and talk with them before you know and you could hardly get out of your seat. You were drinking beer and wine with them, but you really enjoy them.”
The Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Honor Flight Board and Motorcycle Rider Warriors will escort Jack to the airport at 1:30p.m. Wednesday. Jack will turn 102 in October.
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