A trip of a lifetime: World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans take to the skies for Honor Flight Austin

American flags and military hats in hand a group of 41 veterans gathered at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Friday, waiting for a flight of a lifetime, an honor flight. Marine Vietnam Veteran, Lupe Moncebaiz was excited and surrounded by his family.

His son Ken Moncebaiz beamed with pride, he spoke about his father’s service and his contributions to this day. Moncebaiz participates in Honor Guard and Tejano’s in Action. “I know my father’s heart is to be around his brothers especially Vietnam veterans who experienced what he experienced,” Moncebaiz said. 

Honor Flight Austin has four World War II vets, 5 Korea and 32 Vietnam veterans set to head to D.C and tour memorials built in their honor. The non-profit's 62nd trip is dedicated to Jack Miller, a World War II veteran, and his daughter's hero. "I just think it's a wonderful way to fulfill their dreams and show them a little bit of appreciation," said Miller’s daughter, Jackie Vanderhule.

Before the men could reach their gate people in the airport paused and cheered the veterans on. Many shouted, “thank you.”

"This is a two hanky flight that people go on and they very much appreciate the respect and honor shown to them by people like the ones here in this airport," Lee Leffingwell, the Vice-Chair Honor Flight ATX.
For World War II veteran Ben Thien the support was overwhelming. "I'm getting too much attention,” Thien said laughing.

The support also managed to touch the next generation. Gaven Noska stopped to salute the men as they walked by. Noska is set to serve the U.S Navy in November. "I'm the next person, I'm going to be the next person to step up and one day I'll be in their shoes so I have big shoes to fill,” Noska said.

For Moncebaiz the gratitude may be long overdue but worth the wait. "Oh it feels great we didn't get this much attention when we came home so this is really icing on the cake for the Vietnam veterans especially this was emotional, I’m at a loss for words," Moncebaiz said.