Lisa SalvatiApr 1, 2016, 6:15 pmApr 2, 2016, 12:35 pm

Rockland veterans – in their 90s – excited for ‘honor flight’ to Washington DC

John Mikkelson and James Patterson are among 12 making all-expense paid trip to WWII Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery

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The excitement is building for two war veterans in Rockland County. They're flying down to Washington D.C. tomorrow – their “honor flight” – for a tour of the World War II Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.

Ninety-year-old John Mikkelson of Pearl River is overwhelmed by his upcoming adventure on the "honor flight." He'll be one of dozens of war veterans on the all-expense paid trip, funded by Hudson Valley Honor Flight.

“I'm wondering if I'll even sleep tonight," Mikkelson said with excitement about the flight.

Mikkelson was a U.S. Navy officer in WWII. He was on a ship that went all over the world, picking up and transporting the wounded. One trip that stands out in his mind was when the ship left Naples, Italy.

“We hit some kind of heavy seas and I can remember these poor guys on crutches, with one leg or something, and slipping and falling on the wet passageways,” he recalled.

After the war, Mikkelson attended college on the GI Bill - but then, left school to re-enlist in Korea.

Ninety-two-year-old James Patterson of Blauvelt will also be going on Saturday’s trip.

He was a hospital sergeant major in the Pacific during WWII. He helped set up a hospital in the Battle of Okinawa.

Reporter: "What do you remember about those attacks?”
Patterson: “Kamakazi planes diving down on the ships in the harbor. But this was a big hospital, not just, I think, like you see on 'MASH' or something. And we couldn't set up and be ready to go in 24 hours. It was two or three days before we were all set up."

The honor flight leaves Stewart airport at 8:30 a.m.

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