Utah veterans think of friends while preparing for honor flight

May 27, 2024, 10:45 PM | Updated: 10:46 pm

Monday was a special Memorial Day for more than 70 Utah war veterans who are preparing for an honor flight on Tuesday.

Many of those veterans, including two who spoke with KSL TV, were focused on the sacrifices their good friends made. They said it will mean a lot to them to see those friends’ names on memorial walls.

For those who didn’t live through it, it may be a time that is difficult to imagine now. There was a war, a draft and people like Quinn McKay didn’t think twice about enlisting in the armed forces at the age of 17.

“I, at that time, didn’t know they had the atom bomb,” McKay said. “So I thought the war would last two or three years.”

He honored family Monday at the Huntsville Cemetery while preparing to honor those who never made it home.

“Our company was assigned to go down to the South Pacific where they were fighting their last battles of World War Two,” McKay said. He was one of a handful who were pulled off that assignment for additional training at the last minute and he said there was more than an 80% casualty rate for those who went on to do the fighting.

“Every time I think of Memorial Day, I think of that experience,” he said.

Jose Archuleta doesn’t talk about what he saw in the service in the Vietnam War.

“I have family that have never asked. They don’t ask,” he said.

Archuleta also enlsited in the Marines at 17. He said it was a chance to get away from difficult farm life for young people like him.

“We had a job to do. There was no political lines, no religion lines, no race barriers,” he said. “We was Americans.”

The honor flight means a lot to him, to see names on a wall, including those who served along him. He said it’s hard to completely understand unless you’ve been there.

“Sometimes I’m back there … Like they say, you never leave.”

The 73 veterans, mostly from the Vietnam War, will leave from the Provo airport at approximately 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. The honor flights are to help veterans experience the memorials that were built to honor them.

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Utah veterans think of friends while preparing for honor flight