By Kayla Carter
Overcoming a partial government shutdown that some feared would cancel the journey, two Carter County veterans are making their way to Washington, D.C., today to see monuments, memorials and museums established in their honor.
Eddie Shirley, 81, Sonny Pierce, 80, and 24 veterans from other counties attending the Honor Flight Fall 2013 trip came together for a meet-and-greet event held in Johnson City Thursday night.
For the first time, Shirley was able to meet his guardian for the journey, Sandy Barker, who volunteered to care for him throughout the trip. The Honor Flight trip to see the sights of the nation’s capital is also a first for Shirley.
As he enjoyed the evening with his wife Betty before the trip, Shirley reflected on his service to the United States.
“I was in engineering,” Shirley said. “I was a boiler technician. I was a boiler man third class.
“I took one tour of duty in Korea and then we went around the world one time, and crossed the equator one time and crossed the international dateline one time so I’m a shellback,” he said.
While he was once a pollywog — a sailor who had never crossed the equator — he is no longer because of his experiences with the U.S. Navy.
“I enjoyed the Navy,” he said.
Now he’s experiencing a journey as memorable as his service and in honor of that service.
“I’m proud to be going,” he said. “It’s something new.”