Nearly 100 area veterans tour nation’s capital through 23rd Freedom Honor Flight

Nearly 100 veterans from the area took a tour of Washington D.C. through the 23 rd Freedom Honor Flight on Saturday.

The day started with a sendoff program at 6:00 a.m. in Colgan Air Service Hangar #4 at the La Crosse Regional Airport.

The plane left around 7:00 a.m. to take the veterans to see the memorials honoring them at Washington D.C.

Two of the veterans on the trip , John Waugh and Gordy Swatzina, live only a few houses away from each other. They say they didn’t plant the trip together , but it’s a wonderful surprise to be able to experience the Honor Flight together.

“Indescribable actually: We’re so close together that we see each other from time to time, but we never talked about signing up for this flight. And here we are together, so it worked out well , ” said Waugh, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

Once in the nation’s capital , the veterans are honored with a ceremony and participate in a memorial for military members who died during and after World War II .

They can then head to other sites such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Memorial or Arlington National Cemetery.

Both neighbors said it will be a meaningful and emotional day for them.

“This is an honor, overwhelming, and I’m sure there will be a few tears shed,” said Swatzina, a veteran of the U.S. Army.

There was also a welcome home celebration for the veterans Saturday at 9:00 p.m.

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