MARION (WSIL) — A group of veterans from our area returned home Tuesday night from a day in Washington D.C.
The Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois took 85 veterans to see the monuments erected in their honor in the nation’s capital.
The stops included the World War II Memorial, where veterans who served posed for a photo.
The group also stopped by the Korean War Memorial and other memorials honoring the various branches of the military.
A large group of Vietnam veterans also went on the flight and paused at the Vietnam Wall.
The veterans returned home Tuesday night to a hero’s welcome.
Hundreds gathered the veterans as they landed at Veterans Airport.
"If it wasn’t for these gentlemen and these women that go into the service, we wouldn’t have the freedom and the privileges that we have in this country," supporter Tammy Keys said.
This entire flight was made possible by a local resident who donated $83,000 to The Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois in February.
Mary Nell Chew is not a veteran, but she did attend the flight on Tuesday because of her generous donation for the fifth honor flight.
"It was wonderful to talk with the men, talk with the veterans that were on the flight, see their expressions, see them talking to other fellas on the flight," Nell Chew said.
Murphysboro Boy Scout Cody McCann helped escort the veterans from the runway into the airport, where they were welcomed with songs and cheers.
"I just feel like since they have helped our country so much and got us our freedom, I feel like we should at least do something in return," McCann said.
Joel Hillyard made his first trip on the honor flight on Tuesday.
Hillyard said he was a medic in the Vietnam War.
He said his favorite part about the trip was the Lincoln Memorial and seeing the Washington Monument.
"I expected to have a good time, but this exceeded my expectations by so much," Hillyard said.
During the veterans’ return, the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois announced their sixth flight will be on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Click here to visit the Honor Flight’s website.