Eastern Iowa WWII hero celebrates 93rd birthday on honor flight

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- A special birthday for a member of the Greatest Generation. James Washburn from Alburnett, IA is celebrating his 93rd birthday on the trip of a lifetime in Washington this week, as part of the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight.

Washburn is the lone World War II veteran on the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. (Source: Gray DC)

Washburn was recognized at a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, a key battle in the Netherlands during World War II.

“I’m just speechless,” said Washburn.

The Army veteran laid a wreath at the World War II memorial with others from the Greatest Generation, and generations since.

“I’m 93 years old, I’ve never had anything like this before,” said Washburn. “Everything is so beautiful I can’t describe what the heck’s going on. Really. How?”

Washburn was the only World War II veteran on the honor flight. Bruce Adams, an organizer of the event says it is a sad reality. He says the numbers from the Greatest Generation are simply dwindling.

“You know, it is sad in a way. But it’s great to have, like the gentleman today, whenever they possibly can, to come,” said Adams.

Adams says his trips to Washington are down to having only fewer than three, sometimes zero World War II veterans on them.

“Most all the people I know are passed away,” said Washburn.

Washburn says these memorials help preserve their memory. And getting the chance to visit was a birthday wish come true, he says.

“This has been the most wonderful day I’ve ever seen.”

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