Over six dozen World War II and Korean War veterans arrived back in mid-Missouri to much fanfare Tuesday night after spending a day visiting monuments in Washington, D.C.
Volunteers from the organization Central Missouri Honor Flight facilitated the trip, which gave 64 of the area's oldest veterans a chance to see the memorials erected in Washington in their honor.
This flight was a milestone for the group, as the Central Missouri Honor Flight marked its 25th trip to Washington.
After spending the day there, the volunteers and veterans returned to the Courtyard Marriott in Columbia to throngs of friends, family members, and fellow veterans who welcomed them back with great enthusiasm.
Miranda Chapin of the Veterans United Foundation explained that the ceremony is a spectacle for the families who attend. "Motorcycles are the first thing you see, there's a whole parade of them and then comes the busloads of veterans."
"They're all smiles, even after being exhausted after a long day. It's truly amazing to see them get off that bus and hug their family members," Chapin said.
Amongst the veterans who flew out on Honor Flight Central Missouri's 25th flight was KWRT radio announcer and Vietnam veteran Dane Gregg. He said the trip was one of the most memorable experiences of his life.
"This renews my faith in America. This tells me, that we are appreciated and what we did is appreciated," Gregg said.
Gregg said when he returned from Vietnam, he experienced the shunning that many other Vietnam veterans faced when they returned from the unpopular war. He said the trip provided him with closure to some of his experiences.
Many veterans were very thankful they were able to go on the trip. "It was one of the best things," said Korean War veteran Lloyd Summers. "You can't imagine it until you go through with it."
The group will hold another flight in early November. For more information on Central Missouri Honor Flight, visit their webpage.