AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Honor Flight Austin took combat veterans from the Gulf War to present-day operations on a special flight to the nation’s capital.
The day began at the Pentagon at the memorial to remember the 184 people who died here on 9-11 where veterans from each branch of the service laid a wreath.
Then it was on to the Marine Memorial, a huge statue depicting the Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima in WWII
It all made an impression.
“It's amazing, a once in a lifetime experience,” said Army veteran Blair Didion. “I've had chills basically since we hit the ground yesterday.”
Army veteran Abram Yates said it was great to be able to talk with other veterans who understood.
“We're all brothers and sisters we get together and share,” Yates said. “It's a great feeling to just sit down and to talk to other people who know what you've been through.”
The trip turned out to be much more than a trek to see monuments, it was also about renewed comradeship and shared experience.
“It's very chilling to be around other vets and hear their stories and to come back as an adult,” said veteran Kim Bower, an Army MP deployed to Iraq twice. “My skin is crawling, the hair is standing up, it's warming me up inside.”
Then it was onto the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. One of the nice things about Honor Flight is the park police give the veterans an escort to save time in Washington DC traffic so they can see more memorials.
The last memorial of the day is also the newest.
The American Veterans Disabled for Life memorial made a real impression on Jamel Abdul-Aziz who was shot 3 times in Afghanistan. The memorial was built to honor people like him.
“I had a nervous feeling coming here but seeing this, it has a lot it means a lot to me especially my brothers and sisters they're injured just as bad as me,” Abdul-Aziz said.
By the time of their return to Austin, the veterans' travels, laughter, and reflection was met with warm appreciation.