you have a great day.
You might think you already know how this story will
These veterans will board a flight, head to the nations
capital, see the memorials built in their honor...then
It's nothing new.
In fact Here in La Crosse it's been done 12 times
But if you think that is all there is to this experience
than you are truly missing what the 'honor' in an
honor flight is all about.
nat pop of guys around the table
Well these men are about to experience it for themselves.
We're good buddies.
La Crosse barbers Gerry Basl and Ken Garves are two
of the 88 vets on board.
Kenny didn't want to go without me and I didn't want
to go without him.
We really don't go steady.
So is Their longtime friend Onalaska's Everett Johnson.
Yeah I'm ready.
And rounding out the foursome we are following today
is DeSoto's Robert Long.
What's clear from the start is that so many people
want to make this day one they will never forget...
Clear - just how admired these service members are......
Gentlemen, safe travels.
It's also clear...
laughing loud laugh
we're in for an entertaining day...
First time ever I got on a plane with no beer!
Besides the veterans - this chartered plane is filled
more than 60 guardians, medical personel and organizers
there to make sure the trip runs smoothly.
And from the moment they touch down in Washington
nats of fire trucl water.
the welcome wagon begins.
Welcome to Washington.
Strangers at the airport...
You get a hug.
I've gotten more hugs today than I have in a hundred
The police escort that guides them through the city...
And the people waiting to greet them at every stop.
What branch? Army.
Hot damn another army man, alright.
The World war two memorial is up first.
nat pop of group pic
Everett and Gerry are both veterans of that war with
two very different stories.
Gerry was in the battle of the bulge.
And I was captured as a POW and was there for 5 months
as a prisoner.
On the other hand - Everett - a standout baseball
player had one of the most interesting war assignments
They shipped me over to Hawaii and all I did over
there was play ball.
For 17 months!
During the hour or so spent here...
Boy these are something aren't they?
...There are Somber moments...
That's a lot of dead GI's isn't it?
There are lighter moments...
nat of laughter...
But the moments that mean the most are these...
My mother and father were both WWII veterans.
Thank you for your service.
This is organizer Mike Weissenbergers 11th flight
and he says these are the moments that never get old.
People they don't even know come up to them and thank
them for their service.
And that's been going on all day today, every stop
we make and they are just overwhelmed by it that people
really do care.
The Korean memorial is much smaller...much more intimate...
And much more personal for Korean vets Robert and
This is something.
Standing here it's hard to keep buried memories buried.
Ken wiping face
What they had to go through.
Does this hit home more? Yes.
It's so real.
It's just amazing their stories.
And I always ask them 'have you told that to your
family?' And the vast majority have never talked to
them about their military experience.
KEN WITH TEARS
Throughout the day these veterans also travel to the
memorials of Vietnam...
The Air Force...
And Iwo Gima.
Capped off by a stop at Arlington Cemetary to the
tomb of the unknown soldier and the guards that watch
It is a whirlwind visit OF SIGHTS TO SEE.
bUT It's not just about the the memorials.
About the brothers made and brothers lost...
It's about honoring these soldiers for their service.
It's about showing them just how grateful a nation
we are for each and every one of them.
This may be a story you've seen before...After all
this is the 13th trip for our community...it's nothing
But hopefully it's a story that can be told again
and again and again.
In Washington DC with photographer John Schmidt...Jennifer