Washington D.C. (KGTV) - After being grounded for two years because of the pandemic, Honor Flight San Diego’s first trip back to Washington D.C. was full of a variety of memorials and also emotions.
The day started at Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the guard.
The women of the trip took a detour to the Women in Military Memorial, where all six of them received special honors. World War II veteran Ruth Gunter, who was a Navy Wave, received special recognition for her work and for surpassing 100 years old (she’s just shy of 102).
Next, the tour went to Iwo Jima, a memorial dedicated to members of the Marine Corps. While there, three Marines started sharing stories, saying that even though they were strangers, they didn’t feel like it.
“We’re all Marines, all Marines, all Marines,” they said, one after the other, with one adding “we don’t need any other bonds.”
After that, they stopped at the Air Force Memorial, where massive spires shoot into the sky.
“Brings back memories, that’s for sure,” said Vernon Steinman, an Air Force veteran.
Next, the 94 veterans on the trip stopped at the World War II memorial. There are 26 World War II veterans on the trip.
“It brings out what you feel deep in. Sometimes it’s so deep you don’t even tell people about it,” said Carl Williams, reflecting on a war that was a lifetime ago, but he still remembers well.
After that, veterans had time to explore the area where the Lincoln, Vietnam and Korean War memorials stand. The Korean War memorial is undergoing renovations, but veteran Harry Hunt said it was still powerful to see.
“What’s so amazing to me, all these young guys, a lot of them didn’t get back. That’s what’s so horrible about it,” said Hunt as he walked along the length of the wall with his daughter, ABC 10News anchor Kimberly Hunt.
Edd Robinson, a Vietnam veteran, received a flag in front of his memorial. As he walked along the length of the wall that is etched with names, he commented on just how many names were on the wall.
The final stop of the day was at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy. Honor Flight San Diego received exclusive access to the museum, which is located on a Navy base and is not typically open to the public. Inside, two Navy veterans bonded over shared time on a ship.
“That’s great. I’m happy for you. I’m thanking you for everything you did for us young guys,” said one to the other as they shook hands.
Saturday, the veterans will tour various war memorials around the D.C. area, then they return Sunday. The public is invited to help welcome the group back by arriving at Terminal 1 at 2 p.m. Sunday wearing red, white and blue.
Honor Flight San Diego is a nonprofit that relies on donations in order to send these veterans to D.C.