First Honor Flight out of Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

First Honor Flight out of Waterloo

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KWWL) -

As soon as the World War II veterans stepped off the plane at Washington Dulles International Airport, they were greeted by the Honor Flight Ground Crew.

"I've never had so many hugs in my life," said veteran Lynn Harned.

From a warm welcome at the airport in Virginia, it was a short bus ride to Washington, D.C. and our first stop, the World War II Memorial.

"Well, it looked like what you see in the pictures, but the pictures didn't do it justice," said Harned.

This is the first time most of the veterans are seeing their memorial.

"It's emotional, especially looking at all the stars over there. That's in memory of a lot of my friends. I get choked up," said World War II Veteran Richard Klingaman.

"It's indescribable. What has gone into this you can't imagine unless you come and see it," said Lynn Harned.

About 85 veterans made the trip, which for many is a once in a lifetime experience.

"Never have been to Washington, D.C. before," said Verle Buck.

The oldest veteran on the trip, age 99 and the youngest, 84. Each with a unique story to share. Lynn Harned left Waterloo with the Sullivan brothers.

"We went to Des Moines together. We went to Great Lakes together. Then after two months at Great Lakes they went to the East Coast to Juno, and we all know what happened. I went to the West Coast," said Harned.

Richard Klingaman was drafted at age 18.

"My greatest experience was I was with the first troops that went in to Nagasaki where they dropped the bomb. It was just 30 days after they dropped it, and that's a thought provoking thing to witness the destruction that bomb did at that time," said Klingaman.

June 6th will always hold significance for Verle Buck.

"I was in the 149th Combat Engineers and it was on D-Day June 6, 1944 I was one of the first ones in," said Buck.

From the World War II Memorial, we made stops at the Lincoln, Korean and Vietnam Memorials.

"There's so many things. I wouldn't be able to tell you the best part," said Buck.

Then a powerful sight as we watched the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery. The last stop of the day, the Iwo Jima Memorial.

Then, more than seven hours since arriving at our first stop, it was back to the airport for the trip home.

Another well-deserved heroes welcome back in Waterloo as family, friends and community members filled the Waterloo Regional Airport.

Online Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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