WASHINGTON, D.C.- They could be your father, mother, sister or brother. Or maybe spouse. On Saturday, 50 Southwest Florida Veterans of World War II were flown to Washington, D.C. compliments of the Collier County Honor Flight.
"We have that bond, its like the bond that you have with somebody in a fox hole," said Nick Wingert, a Veteran on the flight.
"It's touching beyond belief."
Referred to as the last mission for these Vets, the Honor Flight's mission is to take them to the war memorials in D.C. before the Greatest Generation is gone.
When they realized that other Honor Flight chapters had year-long waiting lists, Dr. Debi Strand and Sean Lux started a chapter in Collier County. This was their second flight and so far, one hundred Vets have been to the memorials that otherwise they would never get to see.
"I've been looking forward to it. I've been trying three or four years to be allowed to go on a honor flight," said Dick Gregory, a Veteran.
"And for Veterans that are in their 90's thats a little bit too long of a waiting list," said Sean Lux.
From the minute they arrived at Reagan National, these Vets were treated like royalty. Each one I spoke to said it was day they will never forget.
"It was fabulous."
"Probably the best day of my life, other than my discharge from the Army," said Jack Whelan.
It was especially meaningful for the Guardians, volunteers who support the trip financially and then escort their Vet on this trip of a lifetime, their last mission. Some Guardians are realted to a Vet. Like A.J. Ward who went with his grandmother.
"I feel very thankful because I mean, if it wasn't for them we'd probably be speaking a different language," said Ward.
This was my second Honor Flight. The first was last November as a member of the media with WINK News. But I decided to go back again, as a Guardian assigned to experience the trip with my new friend, Navy Vet Dick Gregory.
"I don't really feel myself a professional Veteran but I'm proud to have had the opportunity to serve my country for what little I did. I have to say I would do it again if I had to," said Gregory.