Portales WWII veteran visits D.C. memorial as part of Honor Flight group

PNT staff

Portales resident and World War II veteran Joe Blair recently took his first trip to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II memorial.

Blair’s trip was part of the Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico, a Las Cruces organization that pays to fly World War II veterans nation’s capitol to see the memorial, which was opened in 2004.

“We were treated like royalty. You can’t imagine,” Blair said of the trip, which included the veterans being greeted by military honor guards at airports and being honored with recognition at others.

Blair applied to be part of the Honor Flight earlier this year.

“We boarded the bus in Las Cruces under the Arch of Steel of an honor guard,” Blair said. “We flew to Baltimore, Maryland, where we were honored with another honor guard at the airport. We were housed at the Hilton and treated to banquets.”

Blair said he met Sen. Bob Dole, representatives of Sen. Tom Udall and Congressman Steve Pierce while on the trip, which took place Oct. 5-7.

“I thanked Sen. Dole for spearheading getting it made (the monument),” Blair said. “It’s a beautiful place.”

Blair said the main reason for the trip is to allow the veterans to see the monument but the experience went beyond that.

“It was a great experience. I would have never gotten to see the memorial otherwise,” Blair said. “(The monument is) something every World War II veteran is proud of. I met a lot of old codgers like me, and we told lots of war stories.”