SAN DIEGO — The 87 veterans flown to Washington D.C. over the weekend arrived back at San Diego International Airport Sunday afternoon, with more than 800 friends, family and strangers greeting them on their return.
Honor Flight San Diego chartered the three-day trip for the Veterans so they could see the memorials built in honor of their service at the nation’s capital.
On the trip were Veterans from World War II, as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The Veterans are in their mid-70s to 99 years old and include men who served in all three wars, Veterans who earned Purple Heart and higher awards for actions in combat, the first Commanding Officer of Top Gun, a WWII Veteran who landed at Normandy on D-Day plus 2, a Japanese-American who was held as a POW in the U.S., a Navy nurse who served in Vietnam during the war and a set of Air Force twins.
“We were the first twins to graduate from the Air Force Academy,” said Dean Jones who served in Vietnam. “It was a full career I was a fighter pilot, and my dream was to do that, go fast and see places and we did it a lot.”
His twin brother, Wayne Jones, also served in Vietnam but had a different flying job.
“I became a test pilot, so we were in different worlds, didn’t get to see much of each other, but we had some more than exciting times in Vietnam,” Wayne Jones explained.
The brothers also shared exciting times on the three-day trip to Washington D.C.
“We just wanted to do this together because Vietnam we did that together, so it was really special to get do this together,” Jones said.
The 87 Veterans visited Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the Guard Ceremony and several war memorials.
Many did not expect the welcome home they received from the crowd when they landed in San Diego.
“That many people just blew me away, that was unbelievable,” Jones said. ”It does my heart good to see that much patriotism, people coming out here for this, that’s a good sign for the country.”
The trip is to honor the Veterans for their service and sacrifice. It is 100% donor-funded and Veterans travel at no cost to them.