A group of local veterans have returned from the trip of a lifetime.
On April 21st, they flew from Boston to Washington D.C. to visit their memorials- all thanks to "honor flight New England".
"Honor Flight New England" is a non-profit focused on celebrating our most senior veterans. The organization flies veterans to Washington D.C. at no cost to them.
"Honor Flight New England" invited Boston 25 News reporter Stephanie Coueignoux and photojournalist Tyler Unwin to share in this incredible experience.
Founder Joe Byron told Boston 25 News reporter Stephanie Coueignoux, "this is an honor of every second of every day we do this."
This was the 50th flight for the organization, and it was an emotional experience for many of the 57 World War II and Korean War veterans.
Korean War veteran, Eugene "Gino" McCarthy told us the trip made him "proud to be American."
The day began at 5:00 in the morning, when veterans join their guardians- who accompany them for the journey.
Then, it was onto a heroes send-off at Logan and a heroes welcome in Baltimore.
Arthur Rose and his younger brother David took this trip together. Arthur lives in Boston, David in Marblehead. Arthur was 27 years old when he served in World War II. David - just 22 when he was drafted in the Korean War.
David Rose told us Arthur never discusses his war experience.
Their two other brothers also served.
At the World War II Memorial, they walked together and reflected alone.
An engineering officer for the Navy, Arthur was off the coast of Normandy on "D-Day".
He says, "our flotilla left from Portsmouth, England and we set out and the storm came up so we had to go back. So that was a double whammy of being afraid of what's going to happen."
He continued, "we were in danger. We saw some plunks of water- they were trying to shoot our ship, but otherwise it was- i was just there."
It's a sentiment echoed by many- including David- who says the real heroes are the ones who never came home.
David explained, "I feel sorry for the parents and the people themselves. It's heartbreaking for me."
McCarthy also served in the Korean War. For him- visiting the memorial brought unexpected tears.
He shared, "I couldn't hold them back- I just keep thinking about my pal who got killed."
Before Korea, Gino- who grew up in Dedham, told us the furthest he ever traveled was Rhode Island! Serving as a radioman third class officer, he says he saw the world through a porthole- and does he ever have stories!
He told Boston 25, "the fuel for the torpedoes was 200 proof alcohol. That was the fuel! So when they went to change the fuel, they didn't throw it away. So we mixed it with orange juice. I took a couple of belts. Wow!"
Memories were shared throughout the day- from the lighthearted to the somber.
Creating new bonds and deepening existing ones.
The last stop of the day was the Air Force Memorial.
After that, a dinner celebration and then it was back to the airport- a day nobody will ever forget.
Arthur Rose says, "without question. I didn't want to come originally. They forced me and now I am so glad I did. Really, it's something that everyone who can take it, should take it.
To learn more about Honor Flight New England and how to sign up, click here.
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