SAN DIEGO — It was an emotional Friday morning for 95 Vietnam veterans and their guardians as they embarked on a weekend trip to Washington, D.C. courtesy of Honor Flight San Diego.

Veterans began arriving at 5 a.m. and it was first-class all the way. They went through an expedited check-in process and then boarded their American Airlines flight in celebrity fashion. 

Passengers from other flights as well as TSA and other airport employees lined up to clap and cheer the veterans on as they made their way to the gate. FOX 5 was granted special access to the plane to capture all the emotion.

The veterans on the flight served in the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. All of them have earned a Purple Heart or a higher award for their actions and valor in service. 

“I’m just like the thousands of veterans in San Diego … Just to be recognize that we served, I’m happy to be back in San Diego,” said veteran Jerry Fulk. 

His 61-year old son who also served in the military joined his father for the special trip.

“He’s been a great example for me as a man,” John Fulk told FOX 5. “I remember as a little kid waiting on the pier for him to come home after being gone for nine months and my brother, my sister and my mom, with waving balloons, and I can remember like it was yesterday. He is gone for nine months in Vietnam and then he comes home and he did it three times. It was like yesterday.”

During the three-day trip, the veterans will visit the WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War memorials, the Lincoln Memorial and Air Force and Marine Corps memorials. They will witness the changing of the guard ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and tour the National Museum of the U.S. Navy. The trip is to honor the veterans for their service and sacrifice. Due to generous donors, the veterans travel at no cost to them.

The public is invited to celebrate their homecoming at 2 pm. Between 800 and 1,000 people are expected at Terminal 2 Baggage Claim. The Sweethearts of Swing will entertain the crowd with music from 1960s and 70s.