WWII veterans board flight from Austin to D.C. for 79th Honor Flight Austin

World War II veterans were saluted as they made their way through Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Tuesday to board their flight to Washington D.C. as part of the 79th Honor Flight Austin trip. 

"I'm thrilled to death to be involved in an Honor Flight," said Jack Maroney, WWII Veteran.

Honor Flight Austin provides trips to veterans so they can visit the military monuments and memorials in Washington D.C. that honor their service. 

This trip is special because it is the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Flight specifically for WWII veterans.

"Six million Americans served in WWII and there's 175,000 of them left, and so it's a real honor to be in their presence," said Matt Mathias, Honor Flight Austin.

Nine WWII veterans attended this trip including Rose Dern, a WWII Navy vet. Dern says it is an honor just to just be able to speak with fellow veterans. It is something she has not had the pleasure of doing in a long time.

"Wonderful. The bonds with them, with everyone," said Dern.

Dern along with the other vets will be the only WWII veterans honored at the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony on Thursday in D.C. It is a real honor for veteran Jack Maroney, and he says he is not taking it for granted.

"I feel strongly about my service in the Marine Corps, and I get a little bit teary just talking about it," he said.

He admits this trip will be emotional, but he is ready to endure those feelings with his fellow vets.

"The experiences you go through, it is something that you, I guess, you just have to experience it in order to be able to appreciate," said Maroney.

According to Mathias, Honor Flight is all about honoring these veterans and providing a healing opportunity.

"[My] favorite reaction that happens on every single trip is these veterans get very quiet at some point because their memories come back to them of their time in the war or a lost loved one. And, at some point, they'll turn to another veteran who's had a similar experience, and they'll say, ‘I've never told anyone this before, but’ and they tell their story for the first time a lot of times. There's this healing that takes place that we just never expected to occur, but that's what Honor Flight is all about," he said.