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Veteran Brothers Enjoy Honor Flight Together

September 12, 2011, 7:08 PM by Don Jorgensen

Veteran Brothers Enjoy Honor Flight Together
SIOUX FALLS, SD - An estimated 1,000 World War Two veterans die every day. So, Honor Flight organizers worked as quickly as they could to make sure as many vets as possible could make the trip, including a veteran sailor from Sioux Falls. His Honor Flight experience turned out to be extra special.

For years, Old Glory has been flapping in the wind at the home of Paul Harris. When we first introduced you to Paul in 2009, he told us the story of how he joined the Navy at the young age of 15.

"You had to be 17 to get in the Navy," Paul said.

Paul pulled a fast one. He folded his birth certificate back and forth over his birth date so many times, the numbers wore out and it looked like he was born in 1928, not 1930, meaning he was old enough to enlist in the military. His mother wasn't too impressed.

"She really wasn't in favor of me going into the Navy at 15, but it was one less mouth to feed," Paul said.

Paul was on the very first Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

"Well to me it was a real, real humbling experience. You can't imagine people from the VFW and American Legion getting up at four o'clock in the morning to form an Honor Guard for us to board the airplane and telling us thanks for saving America," Paul said.

Paul says he enjoyed seeing all the war memorials in Washington, especially the Navy Memorial, since he served in the Navy. But what made his trip extra special had nothing to do with either brick or mortar.

"He went in the Marine Corps when he was 17," Paul said.

Paul's brother, Jim, also went along on the very first Honor Flight.

The brothers were only two years apart and had both served in World War II. This would be one of the last photos they would ever take together. A few weeks after returning home from D.C., Jim died. He was 82.

"It really meant a lot to me, because I didn't know he was dying. It was so quick, you know. So we had some good times together for a couple of old men and got tot talking about when we were kids all of that, you know," Harris said.

His brother, Jim, served at Iwo Jima, one of the bloodiest battles of the war. Paul says the trip for Jim was just as inspiring as it was for him.

"It was about all these old guys were great. They were having a good time and taken care of like they were royalty. You couldn't have been treated any better," Paul said.

But Paul brought home more than just memories from Honor Flight. His daughter had bought him a US Navy Flag at the Navy Memorial and gave it to him while on the trip.

It, too, now flies in his front yard reminding him of a war, a brother and a trip he'll never forget.

"It was a just a trip of a lifetime, you couldn't duplicate it," Harris said.

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