Over 80 veterans experienced the trip of a lifetime for Midwest Honor Flight Mission 14

Published: May. 28, 2023 at 1:05 PM CDT|Updated: May. 28, 2023 at 9:54 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -Earlier this month, over 80 veterans took the trip of a lifetime. A journey to the nation’s capital to see the memorials and monuments in honor of their service and sacrifice.

Midwest Honor Flight Mission 14 began well before the sun would rise, but the excitement for the trip could be seen and heard everywhere.

Veterans and their guardians made their way to the airport for the flight that would take off at 5:30 am from Sioux Falls.

The day was going to be long and packed with many different stops, but spending time with fellow veterans and family is what can make this trip so special.

”I’m most excited about being with these other veterans, especially the Marines, and then having Matthew come along. This could be the last road trip for some of us,” said Jack Hansen, a U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam veteran.

It was time for all 82 Veterans and their guardians to board the plane and get ready for the ride of a lifetime.

While the flight may have been quiet in the cabin, inside each and every one of these veteran’s, there was a sense of anticipation.

“I’m going to be so excited all day, I probably won’t sleep for a week,” said Dennis Namanny, a Navy Vietnam veteran.

When the flight arrived in D.C., the Veterans received a hero’s welcome complete with a water salute and a crowd to welcome them to the nation’s capital.

A welcome that too many never received.

“It was a lot different when I came home,” said Ray Feist, an Army Vietnam veteran.

“In 1969 when I came home from Vietnam, they were not shaking your hands they were spitting on you,” said Larry Locke, an Army Vietnam veteran.

As these brave men and women laid eyes on the memorials that remember their sacrifice and quickly became overwhelmed with emotions.

“I’m looking forward to going to the wall of course, I’ve got friends that are on the wall. Tears are already coming up, it’s hard not to,” said Locke.

For some, it was the culmination of a lifelong dream.

“I wanted to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, probably my most important, really my goal was I wanted to see that, and the Arlington National Cemetery,” said Gordon Struble, of the 185th Air National Guard in Sioux City.

And for others, saying one last goodbye to old friends.

“Now when you come here and see the wall and you actually see their name on it, it creates a moment again which you can’t forget about,” said Mike Feucht, an Army Vietnam veteran.

This Midwest Honor Flight gave Veterans all across Siouxland the opportunity to really experience something amazing with these memorials and monuments, and for some it was a really emotional day.

“Yeah, I’ve got tears in my eyes already,” said Locke.

This entire trip took place in one day and when the flight landed back in Sioux Falls, people weren’t done saying thank you.

The veterans were treated to another large welcome home ceremony.

They were given a police escort led by a host of American Legion bikers.

When they got to the welcome home ceremony the busses drove into the convention center and gave family and friends the chance to cheer loud for their loved ones.

And for one mom and son it was a heartwarming experience.

”I was so happy for my son,” said Estella McVey, Dave McVey’s 102 year-old mother.

“It’s a moving experience, it’s a day I’ll never forget for the rest of my life,” said Dave McVey, an Army Vietnam veteran.

Those emotions are shared between so many veterans that have gone on an honor flight, and to Aaron Van Beek, the President/CEO of Midwest Honor Flight, that’s what it’s all about.

”The flight is what we do, that’s what we’re here to do. Is to show our veterans our appreciation by bringing them to the Memorials in D.C. to give them that honor and that closure, but what they experience is really what makes the trip so emotional,” said Van Beek.

Since 2017 when Midwest Honor Flight started, they have flown 14 missions to D.C. to provide over 1,000 veterans with the experience and over 700 are still on the waiting list for the chance to join a Midwest Honor Flight.

Coming up Monday night on News 4 at 6 Ervin will share the story of one veteran who made one final flight with honor on the 14th mission to the nation’s capitol.