Seventy-eight veterans flew to Washington D.C. for an all-expenses-paid trip for a chance to see our nation’s memorials such as Arlington Cemetery and the Vietnam Memorial. Following their trip, they returned home to the loving arms of their families and friends, all waiting for them back at Palm Beach.
“Flags, cheering, family, members, balloons, twirly things and a lot of really happy people,” Rosemarie Chapdelaine, who is waiting for her husband to return from the trip, said. “I think they’re going to be exhausted and really, really happy because they got to be in a fabulous place in DC.”
The Honor Flight Network was responsible for organizing the event, asking its participants to arrive at the airport at the startingly early time of 3 a.m. Following the tour of the nation’s capital, the group returned home at 8 p.m. According to Honor Flight representatives, the waiting list for this experience is pretty extensive. The network selects participants based on the year that they served, honoring older veterans first.
Chapdelaine expressed to Fox affiliate WFLX just how happy she was that her husband was among this year’s group.
“It’s about time and it’s so hard when I look at my husband and I see the pain for the men in his unit that died and it’s been so many years,” said Chapdelaine.
Saturday’s flight was one of four that will occur in 2022.
Honor Flight Offers Chance for Veterans to Experience Appreciation for Service
Of course, the Honor Flight’s participants were just as ecstatic to be a part of the effort.
“It’s the wall that gets to me. I have names on the wall that I lost in Vietnam,” said Joseph “Jake” Kehlenbach, a Vietnam Veteran with the U.S. Army. “Once you get in the flow it was beautiful. They did a great job.”
The Honor Flight Network aims to show appreciation to veterans who served from World War II to the Korean War and through to Vietnam. According to the network’s official site, “Participation in an Honor Flight trip gives veterans the chance to share this momentous trip with other veterans, to remember friends and comrades lost, and share their stories and experiences with each other.”
For Kehlenbach, this trip also provided him a chance to experience the well-deserved and long-overdue appreciation for his service. As he explained, back when he returned from Vietnam, his welcome home wasn’t quite as friendly as it was this past weekend.
“When we came back we didn’t get the respect that we get now. It kind of gives me goosebumps, ha ha,” said Kehlenbach.