Honor Flight Austin takes 35 Central Texas veterans to Washington D.C.
AUSTIN, Texas - Busy travelers at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) stopped and cheered as 35 Central Texas veterans, and their Honor Flight guardians, were led to their departure gate.
For veteran Dean Newman, it was an emotional pre-flight journey.
"It means everything. I mean, they don't celebrate you very much anymore, so this is great, this wonderful thing we're doing, you know," said Newman.
For Honor Flight Austin, this is the 80th send-off and trip to Washington D.C.
"Oh, this sets the tone for the entire weekend as thousands of Austinites and travelers come together and line the concourse here and thank these guys. The Vietnam War veterans here had eggs and tomatoes thrown at them in an organized effort to an organized effort to protest the Vietnam War when they came home. So this is the first time we get to say welcome home to these Vietnam veterans. And its life changing for them," said Honor Flight Austin Chairman Matt Mathias.
The trip involves tours to several national monuments and memorials.
"It's a big deal because the ones who didn't come back. The ones that are unable to have their mental faculties, their physical capabilities to stand and to do on their own, I stand in for them," said Ronnie Thomas.
The trip, in a way, is also one last mission for Leeland Light and Will Williams. They served together in Vietnam.
"This is, it's a complete circle. It's a complete circle," said Williams.
Honor Flight Austin has taken almost 3,000 Central Texas veterans to Washington. The trip was sponsored by Venturi Private Wealth.
"Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for this opportunity. Thank you," said Suvella Walker.
This flight included one special passenger, WWII veteran Herman Haydon.
"Means a while lot, you know, you nearly lost your life, and you're really proud of the fact that people do recognize you," said Haydon.
Haydon was part of the D-Day invasion. In September, the Purple Heart warrior will celebrate his 100th birthday.
He offered a message for these turbulent times.
"Well, I think that the Democrats and Republicans ought to start trying to get along together instead of butting heads so much. If they can do that, then they can help get our (country) on a level ground again and moving forward better," said Haydon.
The sendoff included a water cannon salute from airport firefighters.