Veterans make their way to DC – NBC 7 San Diego with the return of Honor Flight San Diego

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Dozens of U.S. military veterans woke bright and early early Friday and made their way to San Diego International Airport to return to Washington, DC as part of a program that followed a two-year hiatus forced by the coronavirus pandemic travel.

Honor Flight San Diego welcomed 94 Korean War and World War II veterans for the occasion. Once the group touches down in DC, attendees visit memorials created in honor of the veteran’s sacrifice.

Those scheduled to take off for Washington told NBC 7 how excited they were with the ride.

“I’m looking forward to this because of my ex-shipmate’s experience,” said Wags Wagoner, a 92-year-old Korean War veteran. “And he was so excited about it that I kept thinking about it. Finally I called and got an application. I felt really honored that they chose me. “

Jack Bruzas, a World War II veteran, said the excitement made him stay awake.

“I feel like a kid in a candy store. You don’t know what to do and you’re so excited, ”said Bruzas. “Couldn’t even sleep last night because it’s an honor and a pleasure. I’ve seen it on TV before and said, ‘Oh, I wish I could go’ and now I have my chance! “

The weekend trip takes veterans between the ages of 85 and 104, including seven people over 100.

Honor Flight San Diego is a volunteer-run organization that escorts veterans to memorial sites in Washington DC. There they can reflect on their experiences, share their stories and remember like-minded people who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The pandemic forced the program on a two-year hiatus, but Friday is the first flight since its hiatus.

“We’re excited to be back on the road and we have so many veterans on our waiting list and we’re getting this flight back,” said founder Dave Smith. “You come in as excited as possible – I can’t wait to get started.”

Smith told NBC 7 that when they paused flights they were doing other events to keep the veterans’ spirits up.

After a pandemic hiatus, Honor Flight San Diego is once again bringing WWII and Korean War veterans to Washington DC for a special experience. NBC 7’s Nicole Gomez reports.

“We were always hopeful and did as many things as possible last year to try and keep things going,” he said. “We did drive-bys and birthday drive-bys and hellos to different people, but it’s not quite the same as taking them back to Washington DC”

Contestants will return to San Diego on Sunday for a homecoming in their honor. Everyone is cordially invited to take part in the festive homecoming.

“I really appreciate everything,” said Wagoner. “Everyone is so nice and well organized. It really is a wonderful experience. I recommend it to all veterans who come into question. “

Those looking to apply for the experience or volunteer can click here for more information.

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