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Local vets journey to Washington D.C.

MADISON – Thirteen local World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and Iraqi Freedom veterans, including five brothers, joined a group of 28 veterans who traveled to Washington D.C. with the non-profit group Forever Young Senior Veterans of Alabama.

According to Chris Batte, North Alabama coordinator, “This was a very special group of veterans; a lot of healing took place on the trip.”

Formed in 2006 by Tennessean Diane Hight, the non-profit group Forever Young Senior Veterans was formed with the vision of “bringing joy to the older veterans.” Over the past 13 years, the organization has completed 45 trips, raising the funds to allow wish granting and veterans to return to the places they may have fought including Pearl Harbor, Normandy, England, France and Belgium, as well as the World War II National Museum in New Orleans and military monuments in Washington D.C.

The thirteen veterans from Alabama that visited Washington included two sets of brothers — Don and Neal Nayman and the five Miller brothers James, John, Leo, Thomas and Willie; Charlie Miller II (unrelated to the Miller Brothers); Larry Vannoy, Air Force veteran and Commander of Madison American Legion, Post 229; T.C. Dawson; Otis Brannon; Richard Knight; and Rothacker Smith.

The Millers grew up in Decatur, but this trip was the first time they all have traveled together as adults. “For many, this was a life-changing event, sharing battles, loss and recovery, sorrow and happiness and making new friends — a once in a lifetime trip,” Vannoy said.

The party departed from Huntsville International Airport on Oct. 17 to a boisterous sendoff from well-wishers and returned Oct. 22 to an even larger and energetic welcome from family members and members of the public.

The veterans had the opportunity to visit World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War monuments; Arlington Cemetery to witness the changing of the guard and place a wreath to the Unknown Soldier; Marine and Air Force monuments; Museum of the Marine Corps; Lincoln Monument; Martin Luther King Memorial; Smithsonian Air and Space Museum; Navy Museum; and other Washington D.C. sites.

For more information about Forever Young and how to donate, visit foreveryoungvets.org/alabama.

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