ST. LOUIS – St. Louis veterans returned from a trip of a lifetime, celebrating 100 honor flights with the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight Network.
Fifty-eight veterans embarked on a historic flight just before 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
“I get to go with my best friends. I enjoyed serving,” said Rick Arnold, an Air Force veteran, deployed to Pakistan and Italy. “Everybody says, ‘Thank you for your service,’ and I’m glad I got to do it.”
Veterans who served in the WWII, Korean, and Vietnam wars took off on an honor flight from St. Louis Lambert Airport for a special day in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
St. Louis is only one of two cities to accomplish such a milestone. Passengers returned around 8 p.m. and were greeted with a wave of love and gratitude.
And what did it mean to them?
“Everything!” said Percy Singleton, a veteran.
Crowds honored the men and women who served, which made them feel a range of emotions.
“Terrific, outstanding, take your pick,” said a veteran.
The veterans visited five war memorials, including the Vietnam and World War II memorials.
“We get to tell their stories for generations to come,” said Keath Hausher, Greater St. Louis Honor Flight Leader. “For a lot of people, especially the Vietnam era veterans, they were not welcomed home properly. They get to have a more positive memory, they get very emotional.”
“When you see these other veterans and what they went through and hear their stories, this is a great country,” said Harlan Steinbaum, an Air Force veteran, and Honor Flight passenger. “I’m very, very proud to be a part of it.”
The trip and the experience touched the hearts of many.
“I wish that every young American could see this,” said S this is just a great land and a great country.”
The nationwide Honor Flight Network has flown more than 250,000 veterans. This flight adds to an already impressive achievement that continues to pay tribute to those who serve our country.