On board with more than 80 World War Two veterans, you could sense their anticipation of seeing something wonderful, and it all started when we arrived at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. U.S. Airways employees and tourists greeted the vets as if they had just come home from the war.
"We are so grateful," said Richard Murphy.
Arlington, Virginia, resident Richard Murphy has clapped and cheered for arriving vets so many times now he's lost count. Yet Murphy says this never gets old.
"This is the least we could do considering they went through so much stuff in World War Two," said Murphy.
Overwhelmed and touched. The veterans were clearly moved by the homecoming at Reagan National.
"Something I never experienced before," said veteran Frank James.
At the memorial, the applause never stopped. Neither did the 'thank yous.'
Walter Andert found the memorial impressive and simply incredible.
"This brings back a lot of days and a lot of years," said Andert.
Anchored by eagles and surrounded by wreaths, the memorial has 4,000 gold stars, each one representing every one-hundred Americans who died in the war, memories of a turbulent time flowing back.
From the memorial the veterans and their guardians spent a few somber moments watching the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery, a moment of reflection on the cost of being free.
Back on board and headed home, the veterans looked tired and spent but certainly not disappointed. Time well spent for a generation who gave it their all.
Saturday's trip marked the third Honor Flight and so far more than 240 local veterans have seen their memorial.
Honor Flight organizers say there will be a fourth flight but they don't know when that will be.