Hawaii vets who took part in state’s first-ever Honor Flight return home on Veterans Day
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On this Veterans Day, some of our nation’s heroes returned home to Honolulu after visiting the nation’s capital and the memorials that pay tribute to their service.
Dozens of people lined up at the gate and baggage claim area to honor 28 veterans — complete with a band and cheering crowds.
The veterans were part of the Honor Flight Network’s first flight from Hawaii.
The Honor Flight Network — which partners with Alaska Airlines — organizes trips to D.C. for retired servicemembers. They left Honolulu on Alaska Airlines Monday, spent a night in Portland and then spent a day and a half seeing the nation’s war memorials.
“The Vietnam War was of particular importance,” said Vietnam War Veteran, Frank Bendrick. “I think all of us knew people whose names were on that wall, and they were comrades in arms, and they’re gone.”
“And it’s a very, very meaningful and touching, you know, realization.”
“My classmate passed away there so I had to visit him,” said Vietnam War Veteran, Al Orion. “To see those words on the wall, to touch those names on the wall, very emotional.”
For some of the veterans, it was their first trip to the nation’s capital.
“My trip was fantastic, was the best thing that I had brought my life,” said Korean War Veteran, Leroy Fernandez. “I’ve seen D.C. in books and television, school and stuff like that, but never been to D.C. and had the opportunity, it was so great.”
“I never expected anything like this but boy it was awesome I tell you,” said Korean War Veteran Ron Yee.
“You can’t help but feelso indebted to them for everything they’ve done and it’s just moving,” said Ben Minicucci, CEO of Alaska Airlines.
As the veterans left the gate today at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, they were greeted by more people including Gov. David Ige and first lady Dawn Amano-Ige, as well as U.S. Rep. Ed Case.
They sang the national anthem with their hands over their hearts reflecting on the sacrifices of all veterans and their fellow travelers, who’ve become friends.
“These guys I was with, I was proud to be with them, proud,” said Orion. “We shared many stories, we laughed we cried.”
The first Honor Flight was in 2005. So far, more than 250,000 veterans across the country have taken part in the program to visit war memorials.
The Honor Flight Network has planned trips for Hawaii Veterans next year.
To apply online, click here.
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