Region 8 WWII vet among visitors to Washington D.C. this weekend

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Since the government shutdown began national parks have been closed to the general public.

Veterans, however, did have access in the nation's capital this weekend.

World War II veterans from across the United States traveled to Washington D.C. to visit the WWII Memorial.

Leo Childers, 89, was one of five men from Jonesboro who were part of the group. "It was a fantastic trip. We enjoyed it thoroughly," he said. "It was far greater than I thought it would be."

Childers volunteered for the Marine Corps in January 1943.

"I was tough and I was a good football player," he said. "I was tops, so I thought that was the top outfit to get into so I did."

He left for the war six hours after he got married. He says the seeing the crowd in Washington D.C. that was there to honor him and the thousands of people who served and sacrificed was overwhelming.

"I was quite flabbergasted at the people that met us, and cheered, and hollered, and shook my hand and hugged my neck. It was very impressive."

Childers said he and the other vets heard there was a chance they would not get to see the memorial because of the government shutdown. He says they did not consider the possibility of a block or barricade a problem.

"We could handle that," he said. "(We would) take it down, and if any men around there didn't like it they could go down with it."

The veterans traveled to the WWII Memorial free of charge, courtesy of the Honor Flight Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving American veterans the opportunity to travel by plane or bus to visit their memorials.

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