WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Honor Flight of the Ozarks is a chance for veterans across our region to go to Washington and see monuments built in their honor. And the best part - it comes at no cost to them, through fundraisers and donations.
KOLR10's Jesse Inman went along on the Honor Flight last week to see how the nation's veterans are given the VIP treatment.
An early morning, a room full of heroes, and an agenda breifing, mark the start of a long day ahead.
82 U-S Military Veterans embark on a trip Washington D.C. to see monuments constructed in their memory.
A proper sendoff at 3:30 AM, and away we go.
Upon arrival, a water cannon salute douses the aircraft, and is a bit of a precursor for the rest of the soggy day.
The pouring rain wasn't going to damper the spirits of these veterans, some having fought for survival in conditions far worse than these.
World War 2 Veteran Donald Patterson used survival as a path to other accomplishments.
"Many of us were not heroes, we were survivors. It's what we had to do. But I survived," says Patterson. I got 3 years of college, I used my GI bill to go to medical school. So it worked out OK."
Navy Veteran Brenda Bendon is 1 of only 2 women on this trip, and is no stranger to making a living in a mans' world.
"It's still the good ole boys club. It was a daily battle. A lot of us come off the farm. We're out there using the tractor and repairing and putting on tires. I knew how to do all that."
Brenda says young women who wish to join the military should follow their hearts and will be rewarded by the experience itself.
"There is a place for everybody. and if you want it bad enough youre going to get it. The military is a wonderful opportunity. You get to see the world, you get to see other cultures, and you have that comaradship, because you've got somebody elses back, and they've got yours."
And maybe it is that camaraderie that keeps this group smiling and cheerful even through the most dreary days.
And on this particular day, seeing the memorials was only half the story.
Many vets were given the homecoming they never recieved the first time they came home, particularly those of the Vietnam and Korean wars.
The goal of the honor flight is simple: For those who gave up so much - give back. And turn a long day into a lasting memory.
The next Ozarks Honor Flight is Tuesday, October 24th. Each veteran is accompanied by a guardian or chaperone and that could be you.
If you would like to learn more about how to become part of this experience, you can visit their website at honorflightoftheozarks.org.
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