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Veterans return home from Honor Flight trip to Washington DC

Posted at 11:02 AM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 14:02:20-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered at the San Diego International Airport to welcome home senior veterans returning from their Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C.

"Most of them don't know that there's going to be sometimes a thousand people here to greet them," said Gary Zeugschmidt, a volunteer with Honor Flight San Diego.

It was the perfect end to an unforgettable weekend for the veterans.

"It's kind of like VE Day all over again. How'd you guys get all these people together?" said Sam Viglione, a World War II and Korean War veteran.

This year, Honor Flight San Diego flew 85 WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans to D.C. to tour their war memorials.

"It's such a quick trip and there's so much going on during that trip and so many monuments to see," said Zeugschmidt. "It really is something."

During the trip, veterans attended the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery.

They then visited war and military memorials to reflect on their service before ending at the National Navy Yard Museum.

The weekend was emotional for many, including Richard Burch who served during the Korean War.

"It means everything. It brought tears to my eyes," Burch said.

Also among the homecoming crowd were fellow veterans who had taken the trip previously.

Dick Erickson, a WW2 veteran, calls the experience life-changing.

"To be able to sit there at the foot of Abraham Lincoln, looking over the World War 2 memorial and with the Washington Monument in the background ... it was just an incredible sight," Erickson said.

Honor Flight also held a special flag folding ceremony and presented American flags to two Vietnam veterans who are terminally ill.