North Texas

Texas Connects Us: The Ultimate Field Trip

The pomp and circumstance surrounding the outbound flight to New Orleans reached well past the gate at D/FW International Airport Monday.

Other passengers watched as one man stepped up to the podium.

"Our hearts are bursting to be able to relate to the next generation, the freedom and democracy that we are entrusting to them, that we fought and many of us died to preserve," the man said.

The man at the podium is wearing a World War II hat. Dozens more are wearing similar hats. 

They're WWII veterans about to make their first trip to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. 

Each veteran is paired up with a high school student from the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD.

Student Justin Wideman is paired up with veteran James Leavelle for the trip.

"I just want to get as much out of his life as I can and I want to share it with everyone, " said Wideman.

You may not recognize Leavelle's name, but you've probably heard part of his story.

"I know he survived the Pearl Harbor attacks and he's also the one who was handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when he was shot by Jack Ruby," Wideman said.

It turns out, Leavelle could write his own history book.

"Everywhere you turn, you see something that you'd either seen, heard or read about," Leavelle said.

And now he's sharing those experiences with Wideman on this field trip.

Actor and Host Gary Sinise calls it living history.

"It's just an extraordinary place, the story of WWII told through the eyes of the men and women who fought the war," Sinise said.

The trip is made possible by Sinise's foundation and its Soaring Valor program. He partners with American Airlines to make the trip possible.

A trip these students and their elder counterparts won't soon forget.

Contact Us