JILLIAN'S BLOG: America's oldest veteran goes to D.C. on Honor Flight

Published: Dec. 5, 2015 at 9:11 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2016 at 4:35 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - VISIT TO THE WHITE HOUSE, Dec. 8 - 110-year-old World War II veteran Frank Levingston is visiting the White House.

America's oldest living veteran finished his Honor Flight trip in D.C. Tuesday. The Louisiana native laid a wreath at the World War II Memorial on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and Tuesday, a special visit to the White House.

He's lived through 19 presidencies in his 11 decades and he's finally visiting the White House. It's just one stop on his Honor Flight Tour of D.C. but it's the one trip he couldn't stop talking about.

Touring the halls where great men walk; the tables where first families eat; Levingston himself is also a legend.

Unfortunately, the president was unavailable, but Levingston was able to meet some representatives from his home state and share war stories with them.

"I was so glad to get out of that place," Levingston said laughing about his time in Italy and North Africa.

"He's showing another reason he's lived so long. He's got a great sense of humor. It takes a lot for that kind of longevity," said Rep. Charles Boustany, "And to think that he survived that, and all through the war, and afterward; makes us proud."

"When you were in Sicily what were you doing?" asked Sen. Bill Cassidy.

"I was a mechanic there," Levingston said.

They led very different lives, but have the same love for their country — and respect for each other.

"What an incredible honor to meet you," Cassidy told him.

"Well, this is a big ol' honor for me to be able to shake your hand," Levingston said.

He said he's seen more this week than ever before.

It's truly been the trip of a lifetime — and what a remarkable lifetime it is.

A special thank you to Allen Bergeron and the crew from Honor Flight Austin for not only providing veterans with such amazing opportunities, but for allowing our 7News camera to go along for the ride.

CEREMONIES, Monday, Dec. 7. - Frank Levingston visited Arlington National Cemetery in the morning, where he paid his respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and saw the changing of the guard.

It brought Levingston to tears. Afterward he said that it reminded him of all the sacrifices that have been made to protect our country.

Everywhere he goes, Frank is being honored.

Another stranger paid for lunch! Kara from DC picked up the tab. ...

After lunch at the Bayou Bakery - a piece of home here in DC - Levingston traveled to the Martin Luther King Memorial.

Monday, the country remembered the Pearl Harbor attack, an event Frank remembers. He was recognized as the nation's oldest veteran and was the first to lay a wreath at the World War II Memorial.

THE ARRIVAL, Sunday Dec. 6 - Frank Levingston refused to let go of his American flag during the flight - evidence of his unwavering patriotism.

As the Honor Flight group landed in Washington, D.C., a water cannon saluted Levingston's arrival just as it did when he departed New Orleans.

Congressman Charles Boustany and hundreds of people inside the airport cheered Frank on when he was brought of the plane. Some were holding signs with his name, others simply wanted to shake the hand of the oldest living veteran.

Levingston continued to say how thankful he was for all the support.

"Just a farm boy in Louisiana working in the cotton fields," said Levingston, "Never thought I'd take part in something like this."

Monday, Levingston will be attending the Pearl Harbor ceremony and a tour of the National Mall is scheduled.

For behind the scenes action, search the hashtag #FrankgoestoDC on social media.

THE FLIGHT, Sunday Dec. 6 - 110-year-old Frank Levingston experienced quite the scene at New Orleans International Airport Sunday morning.

Before his flight to Washington D.C., a group sent him off with a rendition of "God Bless America".

Levingston is now on his way to Washington and is holding his flag proudly.

THE SEND OFF, Saturday Dec. 5 - America's oldest veteran, 110 year old Frank Levingston was sent off in style as he departs for the trip of a lifetime.

Levingston will fly from New Orleans to Washington, D.C., Sunday morning as a part of an Honor Flight.

Before leaving for the crescent city, Levingston was celebrated in Lake Charles by the VFW Post 2130.

"I'm here today to issue a proclamation in his honor, which makes today Frank Levingston Day in honor of his 110th Birthday," said Mayor Randy Roach.

Roach also gave Mr. Levingston the task of giving President Barack Obama a key to the city of Lake Charles.

He also was honored with a challenge coin from the sheriff's office.

Sheriff Tony Mancuso called Levingston an American hero.

"Enjoy your trip in Washington, D.C., I know you'll serve us well, and appreciate your service," said Mancuso.

District Attorney John DeRosier said, "When I see Mr. Frank, I don't see a 110 year old man. I see a young, black soldier in green utilities with worn combat boots scampering across the sand of those beaches. We are very fortunate to live in America."

Overcome with joy, Levingston thanked every one for their support.

"Thankful for all my veterans that's here to take part with me," said Levingston, "You don't know how grateful I feel."

We have a reporter with Levingston and his family as they make their journey. You can follow their travels on 7News Nightcast, and updates on Facebook.