Oct 2, 2013 4:15 PM by Samantha Ptashkin

Vets visiting DC on Honor Flight hope they can see memorials

TUCSON - For the first time in 17 years the government is partially shut down over healthcare reform and the impact is being felt across the nation.

National parks, museums and monuments are all shut down, including the World War II Memorial on the National Mall.

The closure caused quite the commotion on Tuesday morning when a group of WWII veterans from Mississippi stormed past the barricades to see the memorial. They were part of an Honor Flight, which takes WWII vets on a three day trip to DC.

The closure has some local vets wondering whether or not they'll get a chance to see the memorial up close. On Sunday, 78 local vets will leave from Tucson International Airport for a three day trip to DC through Honor Flight Southern Arizona.

Bob Mathews, 90, is one of those vets. The fighter pilot joined the military in 1942. He was based in Okinawa, Japan for eight months.

Mathews signed up for Honor Flight one year ago and he has been anticipating the trip ever since.

He has a list of four of his buddies who all died in the war. He has been waiting to find their names on the WWII Memorial. "I kinda choke up just thinking about these guys every once in a while," Mathews says. "It would just be kinda nice to see if they're on it."

Now Mathews isn't sure how close he'll be able to get to the memorial. Honor Flight Southern Arizona says no matter what, the group will visit the memorial. The only thing in question is whether or not the veterans will see the site up close or from a distance.

Mathews will be carrying his list with him, hoping to visit his friends one last time.

The Honor Flight Southern Arizona trip is scheduled to return to TIA next Tuesday.


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