I just took an Honor Flight. The plane was full of us. Most of us were Viet Nam folks but we had about a dozen Korean War folks and six WWII guys,, including a lady who was a nurse. She is 99 years old. I won't go into details about the flight, to emotional right now, but if you are a veteran of any branch of the military and you ever get the chance, go. For the first time I went to the "wall". A lot of demons I had been carrying around for the past fifty plus years packed up and left. A great feeling.
I took my Dad about 4 years ago. It was so worth the price of admission for me! If you ever get a chance -- go! It Washington like you will never ever experience it again. Dad lasted another 364 days after going, he described it as one of the best days of his life, which meant so much to me. Dad was Korean era, which we are getting a shorter supply on. Having been stationed in Norfolk, DC was on my way home, so have been there several times but the experience then was of traffic and delays and never as rewarding as the Honor Flight trip. There is an overwhelming attitude of appreciation for the Vets from the moment they leave home until they are back home. I learned that day that this still is a grateful nation.
Let me go into a little more detail about the flight. First of all, your Dad must have had the same feelings I had. We boarded a Spirit Airlines charter flight and took off from Ft. Lauderdale at 5:00am, arriving at Baltimore airport at a little after 8:00am. We boarded five charter buses. We had a four car police escort that cleared the intersections and traffic for us. Our first stop was at the WWII Memorial. That gave us access to the Korean War memorial and the Viet Nam "wall" memorial. You must have a "guardian" with you and they must push a wheel chair in case you need it. My daughter was my "guardian" We saw the WWII and Korean memorials and my daughter asked if I wanted to see the "wall". I told her that I did want to look up a name or two. They have books with the names in alphabetical order along with their locations on the wall. I looked up the names and then I had to go sit on a bench and compose myself. My Daughter stood guard a short distance away like a bulldog and made sure I was not bothered by any one until I got my act together. She asked if I wanted to leave and I said no, I wanted to go find the names on the wall. We found the names and it was like they were looking down from above and saying "it's about time you grew up". They were right. That is the best I have ever felt. I never realized that I was still carrying baggage around from over there. Well, the old sea bag is empty, folded and put away. It's about time. We then went to an area that gave us access to the Marine Corp Iwo Jima statue and Arlington Cemetery as well as the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We had a group picture taken at the Iwo memorial and we got to see Audi Murphy's grave in Arlington. We then boarded the bus and went back to the airport for the ride home. About an hour into the flight we had a "mail call". We got cards and letters from school kids, citizens and some of our friends who had been contacted by our guardians and Honor Flight volunteers. When the plane landed we were all told to go to a particular area where we could avoid the crowds on our way out. We were led down a hallway that opened into an area where there were about a thousand (actual count) people to welcome us back. Scout troops, Military folks and citizens. They all wanted to shake our hands and thank us. We thanked them for being there. What a day. All the ghosts I never knew I had are gone and I feel twenty years younger. God Bless America and God Bless Honor Flight.