For retired Clintonville mail carrier John McCullough, it was an honor to go with the other members of Capital Pipes and Drums to Glasgow, Scotland, in August to compete with 257 other bands in the World Pipe Band Championships.

For retired Clintonville mail carrier John McCullough, it was an honor to go with the other members of Capital Pipes and Drums to Glasgow, Scotland, in August to compete with 257 other bands in the World Pipe Band Championships.

"It was an experience -- chance of a lifetime," he said.

McCullough, 67, didn't think anything could top that.

But earlier this month, he was invited to accompany 20 World War II veterans and 67 veterans of the Korean War on an Honor Flight Columbus trip to Washington, D.C.

Being able to play his precious pipes for these old soldiers and sailors at the sites of the World War II, Korean and Vietnam War memorials -- well, that topped everything.

"Even if I didn't pipe, it was still an honor to go out with those fellows," the Washington Court House native said last week. "They went through a lot -- not just in the war, but most of them grew up during the Depression."

"We've been trying to talk him into going with us for three or four years," said Bill Richards, director emeritus with his wife, Bobbie, of Honor Flight Columbus. "We finally twisted his arm enough. He had a very special trip."

At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Richards said he encouraged McCullough to climb the low fence and play Amazing Grace.

"That was a moment for the people who were there," Richards said. "People were grabbing his hand as he climbed back over the fence. The people at the wall are going to be talking about the bagpiper playing in the trees.

"He was a rock star. I think he had as many pictures taken of him with his bagpipes as did any of the veterans."

Although McCullough served two tours of duty in Vietnam after joining the Army in 1970, he was invited to be on the Oct. 10 Honor Flight Columbus trip by Bobbie Richards for his skills on the bagpipe, an instrument the he said has fascinated him since he was a child.

"I've got Scottish blood in me," McCullough said.

Since 2007, Honor Flight Columbus has taken more than 4,000 senior veterans of World War II and the Korean War to the nation's capital, according to the nonprofit organization's website.

McCullough said he choked up more than a little bit when playing bagpipes at the Vietnam memorial during the recent Honor Flight.

After all, he knew some of the men whose names are etched in that black wall.

"I saw some bad times over there," McCullough said quietly. "I made it back, halfway safe and sound; I was wounded. I still think about my buddies that didn't."

After moving to Columbus in 1972 and landing a job with the U.S. Postal Service, McCullough chanced to meet some bagpipe players at Crestview Presbyterian Church, and that's how he came to be a member of Capital City Pipes and Drums.

"They say that the bagpipes are one of the hardest instruments in the world to not only learn how to play but to play," McCullough said. "No matter how long you play, you're still learning. I'm real pleased with where I'm at as far as piping is concerned."

McCullough said he frequently plays at the homecoming ceremony for Honor Flight Columbus veterans returning to Port Columbus International Airport.