SPOKANE, Wash. — The Best Defense Foundation ensures that any WWII veteran who wants a measure of closure or the recognition he deserves has an opportunity to return to his battlefield.
A local Spokane veteran had the chance to take a trip back to where he fought for our freedom 74 years ago.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” said retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Dean Ladd.
He was very excited about the opportunity to travel back to Guam, Iwo Jima, Tinian and Saipan with seven other veterans from across the country ranging from 91 to 98 years old.
“These guys are heroes, they were the toughest guys you could have ever imagined and they were just kids,” said Austin Bishop.
He is the creative mind behind the Best Defense Foundation, started only a year ago by retired NFL player Donni Edwards. They both travel all over the world bringing veterans back to battlefields.
Their most recent trip to the Pacific was a huge success.
“We want the younger generation to see, experience and know what it’s like,” Bishop said.
The World War II veterans were treated like celebrities.
“The airlines they went all out for us, I’m telling you,” said Ladd.
The all-expenses paid trip by the foundation included tours, ceremonies and opportunities to talk with local high schoolers in Saipan.
“They knew the history when it happened. Different than our young people here now, they don’t know anything about it,” Ladd said.
The Best Defense Foundation YouTube channel has over 2 million views. Austin brings his camera on every trip, capturing the veteran’s stories. His creative vision is to engage with the younger generation.
“For us we feel this huge importance and immediate need because we don’t know how much longer we have with these guys and we want to get their story. We want to honor them and put them back in the forefront as the real heroes in America,” said Bishop.
The trip was an opportunity for the veterans to honor those who never made it home and visit beaches where so many of our men spent the last day of their lives.
The following video is a report on a local group helping veterans by teaching them fly fishing.