MARION, IL (KFVS) - More than 50 veterans left Veterans Airport in Marion, Illinois early on Tuesday morning, April 25 for Washington, D.C.
It was the inaugural flight to Washington, D.C. for the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois and a once-in-a-lifetime trip for the Heartland veterans.
"The only time I've ever had a band meet me any place," said Robert Casey, a WWII veteran from Marion, Ill.
Casey and more than 50 other Heartland veterans left early on Tuesday morning for a day trip to our nation's capitol.
A tour of the monuments in their honor, like the World War II monument, making new memories but bringing back old ones too.
"Bittersweet, a lot of things you recall that you don't like to recall, but they come flooding back," said Robert Casey, a WWII veteran. "It brings back a lot of memories for me."
Dan Finke, of Carterville, served in Vietnam and served as a chaperone on this trip.
"It's great to serve and give back to those who served before I did," he said.
Finke said it was especially moving to see the monument to U.S. Marines. His father and grandfather were Marines. For him, this trip brought with it a sense of patriotism.
"It's 'go home week' for those who are patriotic, so I'm proud to be here," he said.
The veterans visited the World War II Memorial, the Korean Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the U.S. Navy Memorial, Air Force Memorial, Women's Memorial, Marine Corps Memorial and ended the tour at the Arlington National Cemetery with the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The trip for all the veterans ended with a welcome home reception when they returned home to Marion, Ill.
Below is the live video of the event from our Facebook page.
Veterans Honor Flight is a non-profit organization and needs volunteers to help with chaperoning around the memorials. Organizers raised $70,000 to make it happen.
Anyone who wants to donate or volunteer can click here for more information.
For more information on the Honor Flight and how to donate, you can click here.