In two weeks, dozens of local World War II veterans will head to our nation's capital for Kern County's second Honor Flight but one vet is making a sacrifice to be there. He's going to be away from his wife on their 70th wedding anniversary. Mildred and Aubrey Knight said it's an anniversary present for Aubrey to be able to go on the Honor Flight. They say they know this trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"Was it love at first sight?" asked the 17's Katey Rusch. "No, I didn't like him," said Mildred Knight. They've been together nearly 70 years, meeting when they were just teenagers.
"There was another girl at that time, nothing serious," said Aubrey Knight but, Mildred won Aubrey's heart, and he won hers. "I don't know exactly how it happened, but I guess I asked her to marry me," said Knight. They tied the knot when she was 17 and he was 18. "We were just very young kids in love."
But, just two months into their marriage, Aubrey was drafted into the Army.
"I hated it. I had to move back home," said Mildred.
Aubrey was shipped overseas in 1943. He served with a medical detachment in the European Theater of World War II. He was apart from Mildred for more than three years.
"From the time I went in, in 1943 until April of '46, came home on leave twice," he said. Aubrey wrote to Mildred as often as he could. "I wrote a letter twice a week or so."
"It was wonderful. I felt like he was right there. They were little letters, but they were v-mail letters," said Mildred. Seventy years later, 87-year-old Mildred still has the letters and is still married to 88-year-old Aubrey.
Because she loves him, when Aubrey got a chance to fly to Washington D.C. to see the World War II Memorial dedicated to veterans like him, Mildred was all for it, even though it's on their 70th wedding anniversary.
"I think it's wonderful," said Mildred. "It's an anniversary present he gets to go."
"When I first heard about when the flight was, I didn't know if I wanted to go then or not. But, I knew it would be a one-time chance to go, so I decided to go on the flight," said Aubrey, with the promise that he'll bring back presents or even send a postcard.
"Maybe another v-mail," said Mildred.
They'll celebrate when Aubrey is home.
"We'll probably go out and have a nice dinner," said Mildred. "We're too old to go dancing." Because after 70 years, they're even more in love. "He's half my life, all my life," said Mildred.
The next Honor Flight takes off November 13th.