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104-year-old World War II veteran from Wakulla County travels to DC on Honor Flight

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – For many Honor Flight veterans, it's been a month since the trip of a lifetime and they're now taking the opportunity to see their memorials for the first time.

The flight of 76 veterans and caregivers included a World War II veteran, 104-year-old Joseph Williams, who arrived at the Aero Center early on Honor Flight day to an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd.

These greetings continued throughout the day as naval cadets, guardians and even strangers thanked him for his service.

“I had no idea people were thinking of me, it was wonderful,” Williams said.

This WWII veteran said the trip to DC was incredible and brought up many different emotions from his past, and even though it was a rainy day, he enjoyed it!

“Well, this is an experience I’ve never had before, that’s for sure,” Williams said.

Marion Hilliard, Joseph's son-in-law, was his guardian during the trip.

He still remembers the first time he pushed Joseph in his wheelchair to the World War II memorial.

“Just being here with him now gives me chills,” Marion Hilliard said. “It's not often that we get the opportunity to experience something where someone is reflected in this way, so many handshakes and people were so genuine.”

The veteran served in the Navy in the Pacific.

Marion said he was grateful for the opportunity to hear true stories from Joseph.

“First of all, he's just a mine of information. And secondly, it's interesting to get to know his point of view because you get a true interpretation of what they were feeling at the time and not something you read in a book,” said Marion Hilliard.

Angela Hilliard, Joseph's granddaughter, is most proud of Joseph when he is not in uniform.

“I couldn't be happier to have my grandfather. He's still alive, he lives with me and I can just share these great moments with him,” said Angela Hilliard.

Joseph was humble through and through and hoped that his sacrifices would make our country a place worth living in.

“I hope that I have done a good service in my life to make this world a better place to live,” said the veterinarian.

This journey was full of firsts for this hero.

It was also his first flight ever and he said it was one of the most beautiful moments of the entire trip.

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Anna Harden

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