Tour Guides

Tour Guides

Volunteer tour guides enhance the Veterans’ experience in DC by providing the history, significance and information about the stops on the trip, as well as pointing out other major DC landmarks along the route.  Volunteer Honor Flight tour guides must commit to the entire time the hub is in town; meeting the hub at their arriving airport / hotel through their return to the airport/hotel. Tour guides provide information while the bus is traveling from site to site;  tour guides make themselves available at each stop, but a guided tour of the sites is not involved. Many trips are a single-day, but some trips are 2-3 days.

Our Honor Flight tour guides come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, including some professional tour guides who donate their time to Honor Flights.  Interested Honor Flight tour guides should have a passion for serving Veterans, comfortable at public speaking, have a basic knowledge of war memorials and other significance memorials and building on a typical Honor Flight route, the ability to engage with an audience,  and the ability to take instruction from the hub’s leadership.

All interested volunteer tour guides must complete a ZOOM training before serving on an Honor Flight.  DC-based tour guides are typically provided meals, water, and validated parking at the airport.  Tour guides can specify which airports they can serve.

For more information about becoming an Honor Flight tour guide please email

11 thoughts on “Tour Guides

  1. State Pillars at WWII Memorial

    One of the most frequent questions asked at the WWII Memorial is “How do I find my state’s pillar?” The state pillars are arranged in the order that the states entered the Union, alternating from one side to the other.

    Instructions: Facing the Freedom Wall (and the Field of Stars), Delaware (1st state) is on the left and Pennsylvania (2nd state) is on the right. States listed below Delaware will all be on the Pacific Tower side of the Memorial. States listed below Pennsylvania will all be on the Atlantic Tower side of the Memorial.

    Freedom Wall
    1. Delaware Dec. 7, 1787
    2. Pennsylvania Dec. 12, 1787
    3. New Jersey Dec. 18, 1787
    4. Georgia Jan. 2, 1788
    5. Connecticut Jan. 9, 1788
    6. Massachusetts Feb. 6, 1788
    7. Maryland Apr. 28, 1788
    8. South Carolina May 23, 1788
    9. New Hampshire June 21, 1788
    10. Virginia June 25, 1788
    11. New York July 26, 1788
    12. North Carolina Nov. 21, 1789
    13. Rhode Island May 29, 1790
    14. Vermont Mar. 4, 1791
    15. Kentucky June 1, 1792
    16. Tennessee June 1, 1796
    17. Ohio Mar. 1, 1803
    18. Louisiana Apr. 30, 1812
    19. Indiana Dec. 11, 1816
    20. Mississippi Dec. 10, 1817
    21. Illinois Dec. 3, 1818
    22. Alabama Dec. 14, 1819
    23. Maine Mar. 15, 1820
    24. Missouri Aug. 10, 1821
    25. Arkansas June 15, 1836
    26. Michigan Jan. 26, 1837
    27. Florida Mar. 3, 1845
    28. Texas Dec. 29, 1845

    Pacific Tower Atlantic Tower
    29. Iowa Dec. 28, 1846
    30. Wisconsin May 29, 1848
    31. California Sept. 9, 1850
    32. Minnesota May 11, 1858
    33. Oregon Feb. 14, 1859
    34. Kansas Jan. 29, 1861
    35. West Virginia June 20, 1863
    36. Nevada Oct. 31, 1864
    37. Nebraska Mar. 1, 1867
    38. Colorado Aug. 1, 1876
    39. North Dakota Nov. 2, 1889
    40. South Dakota Nov. 2, 1889
    41. Montana Nov. 8, 1889
    42. Washington Nov. 11, 1889
    43. Idaho July 3, 1890
    44. Wyoming July 10, 1890
    45. Utah Jan. 4, 1896
    46. Oklahoma Nov. 16, 1907
    47. New Mexico Jan. 6, 1912
    48. Arizona Feb. 14, 1912
    49. Alaska Jan. 3, 1959
    50. Hawaii Aug. 21, 1959

  2. Interesting Veterans’ Statistics off the Vietnam Memorial Wall

    “Carved on these walls is the story of America, of a continuing quest to preserve both Democracy and decency, and to protect a national treasure that we call the American dream.” ~President George Bush

    SOMETHING to think about – Most of the surviving Parents are now Deceased.

    There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010.
    The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 36 years since the last casualties.

    Beginning at the apex on panel 1E and going out to the end of the East wall, appearing to recede into the earth (numbered 70E – May 25, 1968), then resuming at the end of the West wall, as the wall emerges from the earth (numbered 70W – continuing May 25, 1968) and ending with a date in 1975. Thus the war’s beginning and end meet. The war is complete, coming full circle, yet broken by the earth that bounds the angle’s open side and contained within the earth itself.

    The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass. Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.

    • There are 3 sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.
    • 39,996 on the Wall were just 22 years or younger.
    • 8,283 were just 19 years old.
    • The largest age group was 33.
    • 103 were 18 years old.
    • 12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.
    • 5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.
    • 1 soldier, PFC Dan Bullock, was 15 years old.
    • 997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam.
    • 1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam.
    • 31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.
    • 31 sets of parents lost two of their sons.
    • 54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia.
    • 8 Women are on the Wall, for nursing the wounded.
    • 244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of them are on the Wall.
    • Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.
    • West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.

    The Marines of Morenci – They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci’s mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.

    The Buddies of Midvale – LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam. In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 1967. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

    The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.
    The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 – 2,415 casualties were incurred.

  3. “For everyone who fought in Vietnam and wondered if [you] really made a difference…you did.”

    On Saturday, July 24, 2010, the town of Prescott Valley, AZ, hosted a Freedom Rally. Quang Nguyen was asked to speak on his experience of coming to America and what it means. He spoke the following in dedication to all Vietnam Veterans.

    “35 years ago, if you were to tell me that I am going to stand up here speaking to a couple thousand patriots, in English, I’d laugh at you. Man, every morning I wake up thanking God for putting me and my family in the greatest country on earth.

    “I just want you all to know that the American dream does exist and I am living the American dream. I was asked to speak to you about my experience as a first generation Vietnamese-American, but I’d rather speak to you as an American.

    “I still remember the images of the Tet offensive in 1968, I was six years old. Now you might want to question how a 6-year-old boy could remember anything. Trust me, those images can never be erased. I can’t even imagine what it was like for young American soldiers, 10,000 miles away from home, fighting on my behalf.

    “35 years ago, I left South Vietnam for political asylum. The war had ended. At the age of 13, I left with the understanding that I may or may not ever get to see my siblings or parents again. I was one of the first lucky 100,000 Vietnamese allowed to come to the U.S. Somehow, my family and I were reunited 5 months later, amazingly, in California. It was a miracle.

    “If you haven’t heard lately that this is the greatest country on earth, I am telling you that right now. It was the freedom and the opportunities presented to me that put me here with all of you tonight. I also remember the barriers that I had to overcome every step of the way. My high school counselor told me that I cannot make it to college due to my poor communication skills. I proved him wrong. I finished college. You see, all you have to do is to give this little boy an opportunity and encourage him to take and run with it. Well, I took the opportunity and here I am.

    “This person standing tonight in front of you could not exist under a socialist/communist environment. By the way, if you think socialism is the way to go, I am sure many people here will chip in to get you a one-way ticket out of here. And, if you didn’t know, the only difference between socialism and communism is an AK-47 aimed at your head. That was my experience.

    “In 1982, I stood with a thousand new immigrants, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and listening to the National Anthem for the first time as an American. To this day, I can’t remember anything sweeter and more patriotic than that moment in my life.

    “Fast forwarding, somehow I finished high school, finished college, and like any other goofball 21-year-old kid, I was having a great time with my life. I had a nice job and a nice apartment in Southern California. In some way and somehow, I had forgotten how I got here and why I was here.

    “One day, I was at a gas station and saw a veteran pumping gas on the other side of the island. I don’t know what made me do it, but I walked over and asked if he had served in Vietnam. He smiled and said, “Yes.” I shook and held his hand. The grown man began to well up. I walked away as fast as I could and, at that very moment, I was emotionally rocked. This was a profound moment in my life. I knew something had to change in my life. It was time for me to learn how to be a good citizen. It was time for me to give back.

    “You see, America is not just a place on the map, it isn’t just a physical location. It is an ideal, a concept. And, if you are an American, you must understand the concept, you must accept this concept, and, most importantly, you have to fight and defend this concept. This is about Freedom and not free stuff. And that is why I am standing up here.

    “Brothers and sisters, to be a real American, the very least you must do is to learn English and understand it well. In my humble opinion, you cannot be a faithful patriotic citizen if you can’t speak the language of the country you live in. Take this document of 46 pages – last I looked on the internet, there wasn’t a Vietnamese translation of the U.S. Constitution. It took me a long time to get to the point of being able to converse and, to this day, I still struggle to come up with the right words. It’s not easy, but if it’s too easy, it’s not worth doing.

    “Before I knew this 46-page document, I learned of the 500,000 Americans who fought for this little boy. I learned of the 58,000 names inscribed on the black wall at the Vietnam Memorial. You are my heroes. You are my founders.

    “At this time, I would like to ask all the Vietnam veterans to please stand. I thank you for my life. I thank you for your sacrifices, and I thank you for giving me the freedom and liberty I have today. I now ask all veterans, firefighters, and police officers, to please stand. On behalf of all first generation immigrants, I thank you for your services and may God bless you all, and may God bless America!”

    Quang Nguyen
    Creative Director/Founder
    Caddis Advertising, LLC

    “One Flag, One Language, One Nation Under God”

  4. The Story of KILROY!!!
    The WWII Memorial has a Kilroy Was Here sign hidden behind/outside the memorial.

    Do you remember Kilroy? Anyone born in the mid-thirties (or earlier) knew Kilroy. We didn’t know why but we had lapel pins with his nose hanging over the label and the top of his face above his nose with his hands hanging over the label too. I believe it was orange colored. No one knew why he was so well known but we all joined in!


    In 1946 the American Transit Association, through its radio program, “Speak to America,” sponsored a nationwide contest to find the REAL Kilroy, offering a prize of a real trolley car to the person who could prove himself to be the genuine article.

    Almost 40 men stepped forward to make that claim, but only James Kilroy from Halifax , Massachusetts, had evidence of his identity.

    Kilroy was a 46-year old shipyard worker during the war who worked as a checker at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy. His job was to go around and check on the number of rivets completed. Riveters were on piecework and got paid by the rivet.

    Kilroy would count a block of rivets and put a check mark in semi-waxed lumber chalk, so the rivets wouldn’t be counted twice. When Kilroy went off duty, the riveters would erase the mark. Later on, an off-shift inspector would come through and count the rivets a second time, resulting in double pay for the riveters.

    One day Kilroy’s boss called him into his office. The foreman was upset about all the wages being paid to riveters, and asked him to investigate. It was then he realized what had been going on.

    The tight spaces he had to crawl in to check the rivets didn’t lend themselves to lugging around a paint can and brush, so Kilroy decided to stick with the waxy chalk. He continued to put his checkmark on each job he inspected, but added KILROY WAS HERE in king-sized letters next to the check, and eventually added the sketch of the chap with the long nose peering over the fence and that became part of the Kilroy message. Once he did that, the riveters stopped trying to wipe away his marks.

    Ordinarily the rivets and chalk marks would have been covered up with paint.. With war on, however, ships were leaving the Quincy Yard so fast that there wasn’t time to paint them. As a result, Kilroy’s inspection “trademark” was seen by thousands of servicemen who boarded the troopships the yard produced. His message apparently rang a bell with the servicemen, because they picked it up and spread it all over Europe and the South Pacific. Before war’s end, “Kilroy” had been here, there, and everywhere on the long hauls to Berlin and Tokyo.

    To the troops outbound in those ships, however, he was a complete mystery; all they knew for sure was that some jerk named Kilroy had “been there first.” As a joke, U.S. Servicemen began placing the graffiti wherever they landed, claiming it was already there when they arrived.

    Kilroy became the U.S. Super-GI who had always “already been” wherever GIs went. It became a challenge to place the logo in the most unlikely places imaginable (it is said to be atop Mt. Everest, the Statue of Liberty, the underside of l’Arc De Triomphe, and even scrawled in the dust on the moon).

    As the war went on, the legend grew. Underwater demolition teams routinely sneaked ashore on Japanese-held islands in the Pacific to map the terrain for coming invasions by U.S. Troops (and thus, presumably, were the first GI’s there). On one occasion, however, they reported seeing enemy troops painting over the Kilroy logo! In 1945, an outhouse was built for the exclusive use of Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill at the Potsdam conference. Its’ first occupant was Stalin, who emerged and asked his aide (in Russian), “Who is Kilroy?”

    To help prove his authenticity in 1946, James Kilroy brought along officials from the shipyard and some of the riveters. He won the trolley car, which he gave to his nine children as a Christmas gift and set it up as a playhouse in the Kilroy front yard in Halifax , Massachusetts.

    So, now you know the rest of the story!

  5. Tinian Island, Pacific Ocean (Sorry the pics don’t come through; you can probably google Tinian Island to see them).

    It’s a small island, less than 40 square miles, a flat green dot in the vastness of Pacific blue. Fly over it and you notice a slash across its north end of uninhabited bush, a long thin line that looks like an overgrown dirt runway. If you didn’t know what it was, you wouldn’t give it a second glance out your airplane window.

    On the ground, you see the runway isn’t dirt but tarmac and crushed limestone, abandoned with weeds sticking out of it. Yet this is arguably the most historical airstrip on earth. This is where World War II was won.

    On July 24, 1944, 30,000 US Marines landed on the beaches of Tinian …. Eight days later, over 8,000 of the 8,800 Japanese soldiers on the island were dead (vs. 328 Marines), and four months later the Seabees had built the busiest airfield of WWII – dubbed North Field – enabling B-29 Superfortresses to launch air attacks on the Philippines, Okinawa, and mainland Japan.

    Late in the afternoon of August 5, 1945, a B-29 was maneuvered over a bomb loading pit, then after lengthy preparations, taxied to the east end of North Field’s main runway, Runway Able, and at 2:45am in the early morning darkness of August 6, took off.

    The B-29 was piloted by Col. Paul Tibbets of the US Army Air Force, who had named the plane after his mother, Enola Gay. The crew named the bomb they were carrying Little Boy. 6- hours later at 8:15am Japan time, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima .

    Three days later, in the pre-dawn hours of August 9, a B-29 named Bockscar (a pun on “boxcar” after its flight commander Capt. Fred Bock), piloted by Major Charles Sweeney took off from Runway Able. Finding its primary target of Kokura obscured by clouds, Sweeney proceeded to the secondary target of Nagasaki, over which, at 11:01am, bombardier Kermit Beahan released the atomic bomb dubbed Fat Man.

    Here is “Atomic Bomb Pit #1” where Little Boy was loaded onto Enola Gay:

    There are pictures displayed in the pit, now glass-enclosed. This one showsLittle Boy being hoisted into Enola Gay’s bomb bay.

    And here on the other side of ramp is “Atomic Bomb Pit #2” where Fat Man was loaded onto Bockscar.

    The commemorative plaque records that 16 hours after the nuking of Nagasaki , “On August 10, 1945 at 0300, the Japanese Emperor without his cabinet’s consent decided to end the Pacific War.”

    Take a good look at these pictures, folks. This is where World War II ended with total victory of America over Japan . I was there all alone. There were no other visitors and no one lives anywhere near for miles. Visiting the Bomb Pits, walking along deserted Runway Able in solitude, was a moment of extraordinarily powerful solemnity.

    It was a moment of deep reflection. Most people, when they think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki , reflect on the numbers of lives killed in the nuclear blasts – at least 70,000 and 50,000 respectively. Being here caused me to reflect on the number of lives saved – how many more Japanese and Americans would have died in a continuation of the war had the nukes not been dropped.

    Yet that was not all. It’s not just that the nukes obviated the US invasion of Japan , Operation Downfall, that would have caused upwards of a million American and Japanese deaths or more. It’s that nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki were of extraordinary humanitarian benefit to the nation and people of Japan .

    Let’s go to this cliff on the nearby island of Saipan to learn why:

    Saipan is less than a mile north of Tinian …. The month before the Marines took Tinian, on June 15, 1944, 71,000 Marines landed on Saipan …. They faced 31,000 Japanese soldiers determined not to surrender.

    Japan had colonized Saipan after World War I and turned the island into a giant sugar cane plantation. By the time of the Marine invasion, in addition to the 31,000 entrenched soldiers, some 25,000 Japanese settlers were living on Saipan, plus thousands more Okinawans, Koreans, and native islanders brutalized as slaves to cut the sugar cane.

    There were also one or two thousand Korean “comfort women” (kanji in Japanese), abducted young women from Japan ‘s colony of Korea to service the Japanese soldiers as sex slaves. (See The Comfort Women: Japan ‘s Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War, by George Hicks.)

    Within a week of their landing, the Marines set up a civilian prisoner encampment that quickly attracted a couple thousand Japanese and others wanting US food and protection. When word of this reached Emperor Hirohito – who contrary to the myth was in full charge of the war – he became alarmed that radio interviews of the well-treated prisoners broadcast to Japan would subvert his people’s will to fight.

    As meticulously documented by historian Herbert Bix in Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, the Emperor issued an order for all Japanese civilians on Saipan to commit suicide. The order included the promise that, although the civilians were of low caste, their suicide would grant them a status in heaven equal to those honored soldiers who died in combat for their Emperor.

    And that is why the precipice in the picture above is known as Suicide Cliff, off which over 20,000 Japanese civilians jumped to their deaths to comply with their fascist emperor’s desire – mothers flinging their babies off the cliff first or in their arms as they jumped.

    Anyone reluctant or refused, such as the Okinawan or Korean slaves, were shoved off at gunpoint by the Jap soldiers. Then the soldiers themselves proceeded to hurl themselves into the ocean to drown off a sea cliff afterwards called Banzai Cliff. Of the 31,000 Japanese soldiers on Saipan , the Marines killed 25,000, 5,000 jumped off Banzai Cliff, and only the remaining thousand were taken prisoner.

    The extent of this demented fanaticism is very hard for any civilized mind to fathom – especially when it is devoted not to anything noble but barbarian evil instead. The vast brutalities inflicted by the Japanese on their conquered and colonized peoples of China , Korea , the Philippines , and throughout their “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” was a hideously depraved horror.

    And they were willing to fight to the death to defend it. So they had to be nuked. The only way to put an end to the Japanese barbarian horror was unimaginably colossal destruction against which they had no defense whatever. Nuking Japan was not a matter of justice, revenge, or it getting what it deserved. It was the only way to end the Japanese dementia.

    And it worked – for the Japanese. They stopped being barbarians and started being civilized. They achieved more prosperity – and peace – than they ever knew, or could have achieved had they continued fighting and not been nuked. The shock of getting nuked is responsible.

    We achieved this because we were determined to achieve victory. Victory without apologies. Despite perennial liberal demands we do so, America and its government has never apologized for nuking Japan … Hopefully, America never will.

    Oh, yes… Guinness lists Saipan as having the best, most equitable, weather in the world.

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