ESCANABA — Upper Peninsula veterans are preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Washington, D.C. The Upper Peninsula Honor Flight Mission VII is leaving for the nation’s capital Thursday morning.

But before the veterans got a good night of sleep, Congressman Dan Benishek visited Escanaba to say hello to them. He says this is a natural extension of the time he spent as a doctor at Dickinson County Memorial Hospital and the Oscar Johnson VA Medical Center.

“Now that I’m on the House VA Committee, I get to do some more work with veterans, so it’s really a privilege for me to continue my service to the veterans,” Benishek said. “It’s just really a privilege to meet these guys and gals. There’s a couple of women World War II veterans out there (on this trip), so it’s been really cool to meet them.”

Benishek has met the veterans from all seven Honor Flight missions. He’s usually been in Washington for the trips and says he’s glad to spend more time with them than the trips’ tight schedule allows.

“They’ll get their picture taken at the World War II Memorial,” Benishek said. “They’ll stop at the Iwo Jima Memorial. They’ll stop at the Korean War Memorial. It’s just a real thrill for these guys to see some of this stuff that they’ve never seen before.”

The Honor Flight trip leaves the Delta County Airport at 7:30 tomorrow morning. It’s scheduled to return to a hero’s welcome at 8:30 tomorrow night.