By Wendy Burton
A 91-year-old veteran recently experienced being formally honored for the first time for his military service.
Clarence Huggins is a World War II veteran who served in the 13th Army Air Corps — a branch of service now called the Air Force.
Huggins spent 3 1/2 years just after Pearl Harbor serving as a supply staff sergeant, mostly in New Guinea.
He can tell stories about Japanese planes crashing on the beach near his unit, stripping crippled planes for parts to get American planes back in the air and much more.
Huggins recently went on a trip that celebrated his service — something he said he’s never experienced before. “It was all special — the banquet and awards ceremony especially,” Huggins said about the recent Oklahoma Honor Flights trip he took to Washington, D.C.
Oklahoma Honor Flights is an organization which transports Oklahoma veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their services and sacrifice, according to oklahomahonorflights.org.
Huggins said it’s a whirlwind, one-day trip, but worth it.
“That was a fabulous thing. I wouldn’t take anything for it,” he said. “It just wore us out, but I’m glad we did it.”
Huggins’ son, Jim Huggins, went on the trip with his father. Jim said the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience he hopes all Oklahoma WWII veterans will take advantage of.
“One of the neatest things was the hero’s welcome people everywhere gave them,” Jim said. “People everywhere, the airport, all over Washington, everywhere — just clapping and cheering.”
There was a banquet at Rose State College the night before the trip, which Clarence was honored deeply by, he said.
There was a chance for his father to stand in front of the WWII memorial in D.C. — meaningful in so many ways, Jim said.
“All over Washington we were escorted by law enforcement, and people just moved over, got out of the way, clapped and cheered,” Jim said. “It’s a good deal, and these guys need to go on this trip.”