Oklahoma Veterans Get Chance Of Lifetime With Cherokee Warrior Flight

Sunday, September 27th 2015, 10:10 pm
By: News On 6

Eleven of America's finest are preparing to take off for the second Cherokee Warrior flight.

Veterans from World War II and the Korean War will catch a flight to Washington, D.C to tour the national military memorials.

A dinner honoring those 11 veterans and their families was held on Sunday. The presentation of awards was the first part before the group leaves for its three-day trip to D.C.

Seventy years ago, millions of U.S. citizens took up arms to protect America.

Meet two of them... 88-year-old sailor Valentino Burnett.

"I wanted to do what all the boys were doing," Burnett said.

And 92-year-old airman J.R. Zellner.

"We were going back to Germany when they dropped the bomb on Hiroshima,” Zellner said.

Zellner said he and an older brother were the only ones out of four in his family to make it back home.

“I'm 92 years old and I’m reconciled to the fact that they didn't make it," he said.

It's not the sad times these veterans want to remember. They are looking to the future as they prepare to take off for the Cherokee Warrior flight.

On the trip, the veterans will spend three days touring the nation’s capital. Their flight, meals and hotel stay are funded by the Cherokee Nation.

"It's a small tribute,” said Joe Crittenden of the Cherokee Nation. “I know it doesn't make up for all the things that they done for this country and all the freedoms we enjoy and the lifestyles we have. We owe them a great deal and it's a small token of our appreciation."

Burnett said when he joined the U.S. Navy all those years ago, that's just what young men did. So instead of waiting for the draft to take him, he joined.

He, along with so many others, made it out of that war.

Years later, his son would fall in another.

"I had a son that was killed in Vietnam and I want to see his memorial,” Burnett said. “That would be one of the places I really want to see."