Veterans head to Washington with Honor Flight organization

Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 8:22 PM EDT
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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - More than a dozen veterans received a warm salute and sendoff Friday as they left Bedford on a trip that would honor their military service.

It was the fifth visit to Washington D.C. organized by Central and Southwest Virginia Honor Flight, and the second since COVID caused the organization to take a break.

The latest group included 15 veterans whose military service spanned World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

U.S. Air Force veteran and Bedford Co. resident Delbert Garrison said he was looking forward to connecting with his brothers and sisters who have served in the armed forces.

“I’m thankful for it and I’ve been treated like a king,” Garrison said in an interview. “And they said this is only the first step. I’m blown away.”

U.S. Army veteran and Pulaski resident David Wright said he appreciated the recognition and respect.

“Us Vietnam veterans need that,” Wright told WDBJ7. “We need a big welcome home. And I think this is going to give it to us.”

U.S. Marine veteran Hannah Jordan joined the trip as a guardian.

“Being a younger veteran, it’s good to get out and do these things with the older generations of veterans and hear their stories,” she said.

Martin Leamy, a veteran himself and the President and CEO of Central and Southwest Virginia Honor Flight, said veterans from different conflicts share different experiences, but they also have a lot in common.

“They start out pretty quiet, then they start having interaction and the next thing you know, it’s like they’re a bunch of fifth and sixth graders on recess,” he joked.

Members from four chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution served breakfast, and waved flags as the veterans began their journey.

Cadets from the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps provided the salute.

The veterans and their guardians will spend most of the weekend visiting the memorials in Washington DC. They are scheduled to return to the National D-Day Memorial Sunday afternoon.