More than 100 veterans of World War II boarded a plane to the nation's capital Friday as part of the San Diego Honor Flight Network.
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The program began in 2004 when the WWII Monument in the nations capitol was completed.
It started with just a couple of veterans from Ohio. Now its spread nationwide.
Friday morning the largest group of San Diego WWII vets began the journey, many have never been to Washington and many have never seen the monument other than in photographs.
"Veterans and their caregivers will visit the memorials in Washington, DC but specifically, they will visit the World War II memorial, which many have never seen," said Judy Radke, an Honor Flight volunteer. She wanted to take her father who was a paratrooper during the war but he passed away before they could take the trip.
The nonprofit organization conducts a number of fundraisers and solicits donations to charter planes, bus transportation and meals for veterans who want to visit Washington, DC.
"I can't believe I'm going to Washington," said Allen Bodenlos, a Pearl Harbor survivor.
The soon to be 92-year-old will be among the group of about 100 veterans who are going on the trip.
"I am so looking forward to this," Bodenlos said. "There may be some of the guys from my old Army unit that are going as well. I look forward to seeing them too."
Bodenlos, who joined the Army in 1940, soon found himself in Hawaii at the Schofield Army barracks as the company bugler. He had gone to Honolulu on December 6, 1941 to get music instruments and the next day was on his way back.
"I thought what I was seeing was a drill, then I saw all the black smoke and felt the explosions and saw planes, hundreds of them in the air," he said.
Bodenlos did not pick up a bugle after that as he went from island to island in the Pacific Theater during the war. He returned to his native Ohio after the war and later moved to California where he found the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and became a member.
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