KNOXVILLE (WATE) – HonorAir Knoxville is sending over 130 veterans to Washington D.C. Wednesday, including three women who helped with the Manhattan Project.
Christine Higgenbothom smiles when she looks at memories from working on the Manhattan Project that she will carry for the rest of her life. She’s one of three women who worked on the project that will get a chance to be a part of the next HonorAir flight out of Knoxville Wednesday morning, something happening for the first time ever.
“It really means a lot,” she said.
The Manhattan Project was a research and development project that produced the first nuclear weapons during World War II.
“It’ll be the first time I’ve gone somewhere without one of my children with me,” said Higgenbothom.
She’ll be fine because the former medical lab technician will be traveling with her close friend Virginia Coleman. They’ve been friends for more than 70 years.
“I’m looking forward to the snacks,” said Coleman.
Coleman is also looking forward to tour some of the most prominent memorials our nation has to offer.
“I’m looking forward to the seeing the Lincoln Memorial,” said Coleman.
“I’ll probably come back with a camera full of pictures,” said Peggy Stuart, a former Calutron girl.
This will be an exciting girl trip that these three women will remember forever.
“I was amazed that anyone would even ask a little old country girl like me to go anyway,” said Stuart.
The official photographer for the Manhattan Project Ed Wescott will also be going on the trip. The group also consists of World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans. This will be HonorAir’s 22nd flight. Around 3,000 veterans have flown with the organization.
The public is encouraged to welcome home the veterans at 8:15 p.m. at McGhee Tyson Airport.
“When we return home and our veterans see all the flags, patriotic balloons and people lined up to welcome them they are incredibly touched that people care about the sacrifices they made for their country. It will be especially moving for the Vietnam veterans whose recognition has been so long in coming,” said HonorAir Chairman Eddie Mannis.
The veterans will visit World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Marine and Air Force memorials. Also, they will see the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at the Arlington National Cemetery.