Veterans return to a warm welcome

ESCANABA — Veterans are honored and thanked for their service as often as possible, but one lucky group of veterans was able to travel to Washington, D.C. to see just how thankful this country is for their service.

The missions are organized by the Honor Flight Network, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on sending veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials.

“Many of them do not have the opportunity to travel there and never have had an opportunity. The memorials were built for us, so they should go and see them,” said World War II Veteran Richard Morrison.

The group was made up of 15 World War II veterans and 60 Korean War Vets. They left Wednesday morning and had a jam packed day full of sightseeing and visiting everything that was built in their honor. The community came out to welcome them home and for some travelers, there were a few surprises in store for them as well.

“I’m here to surprise my buddy from Toivola, Willy Walton, and he doesn’t know that I’m here. But I’ll be here to surprise him when he comes in here to be honored. We were coming up from Traverse City anyway and I thought, what a good chance to sneak in here and surprise him, he doesn’t know that I’m coming,” added Leo Mattila, U.S. Army veteran.

This was the eighth Honor Flight sponsored trip to Washington, D.C. and the next flight is scheduled for September 16. The entire trip is provided to the veterans free of charge, provided for by funds raised by the Honor Flight program. For more information on the Honor Flight Network or how to sign up for the next trip, visit the Honor Flight website here.