The 18th Freedom Honor Flight out of La Crosse took
veterans to Washington D.C.
and back all in one day .
to give them a chance to see memorials in their honor.
News 8's Madalyn O'Neill went along on Saturday .
and spent time with veterans who say it was a once
in a lifetime opportunity.
It was a long day.
starting at around 5 in the morning and ending at
But you couldn't tell it by looking at the veterans.
There were about 90 of them .
all full of energy from the morning's sendoff, to
all the memorials, finally to the homecoming celebration
once we returned to La Crosse.
A Korean War veteran we introduced you to last week
and a World War II nurse I spent time with both say
the memorials were amazing .
but what was really special, was who they were seeing
the memorials with.
My dad gave me a call.
I was so proud and so happy.
I said yes I defintley want to do this.
Some days make it worth getting up before the sun.
I tell ya it's one of the best things that'll probably
be in my life.
Rodney Lundell is joining his father, Wayne, on the
18th Freedom Honor Flight out of La Crosse.
It'll be just like thast mastercard commercial.
This charter plane is taking former marine and Korean
War vet Wayne back to a place he used to be stationed
It'll be different because I was there in the forties.
Right out of the gates, it's clear to the veterans
that this is no ordinary day trip.
NAT: welcome from the crowd off the airplane
People are all so welcoming.
I mean little kids along the street and everything
it's just awesome.
First stop: the World War II memorial .
completed in 2004, it's one that many vets are seeing
for the first time.
You're a novelty mom.
World War II Nurse LaVerne Ness is one of the few
women on this journey.
LaVerne well you get a lot of attention.
We're almost there ma.
At first she wasn't sure she'd belong.
I didnt feel since I didn't get overseas .
I didn't feel I should be coming.
But her son Jeff thinks otherwise.
When you think about the sacrifices they made and
how they put their lives on hold and I hope my generation
and the geneartions, my kids and grandkids all realilze
how important that was to the world actually.
LaVerne says the trip reminds her she does deserve
to be among the ranks.
Yeah it does son pats her shoulder it does.
thats for sure.
It's beautiful here.
looks a bit different than Wayne remembers.
Here let's go check that wall out, ready?
As a Korean War vet, he was looking forward to this
memorial the most.
I'll tell you what, this is well worth it just to
see this you know.
man oh man oh man it is beautiful.
My dad really didnt talk too much about the war and
that, beacuse there are bad memories.
RodWhen you were at the chosin reservoir how cold
did it really get? Wayne 38 below zero it was mighty
But now, some of the ice is starting to chip.
most are still there.
Rod most passed right? Wayne.
Jeff says his mother isn't one to bring up memories
from the war, either.
Yeah it's pretty rare.
I guess we were so busy back then that we really didnt
think about it too much and now we have a lot of time
to reflect on what we really went through.
While on the trip,
some of those floodgates opened up to conversation.
It's therapeutic it really is.
it's good for her, good for me too.
Jeeze that even lookis like me right here .
Jeff that is what you looked like when you were younger.
This day is very much about the veterans.
NAT: thank you for your service
But between the smiles .
and the laughs .
my dad is 87.Wayne 86 Rod ehh im giving you an extra
It's also very much about strenghtening relationships
The whole day we've been together and able to talk
and share so thats been really special for me.
NAT: band playing at homecoming/fireworks
And that's what makes the trip truely priceless.
RodI love you dad im glad youre here that we could
see this together hugs this is wonderful, but to see
it with you dad that served here.
wayne: ive got tears in my eyes.
rod; i have no words.
wayne" it's once in lifetime you know"
In Washington, D.C., Madalyn O'Neill, News 8
The trip was well worth the early start.
It was amazing to see all kinds of people coming up
throughout the day to thank these vets for their service.
It's a trip I don't think anyone will forget anytime
The whole Freedom Honor Flight cost almost $100-thousand
but the veterans go free of charge.
Money is donated throughout the year to fund the trip.