Honor Flight holds first trip since start of COVID-19 pandemic

After grounding all trips due to the COVID-19 pandemic – the Honor Flight network is returning to the sky to fly veterans to the nation’s capital to tour the memorials dedicated to their service.

The non-profit organizes the trips for veterans who would otherwise not be able to go.

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112 senior heroes flew into the nation’s capital from Chicago Thursday morning for the first Honor Flight since the start of the pandemic.

FOX 5 witnessed a beautiful moment as they sang the Star-Spangled Banner together at the WWII memorial.

The veterans were welcomed by a military vocalist singing the national anthem as well as a color guard.

After Honor Flight Chicago went to the Lincoln Memorial as well as the Korean and Vietnam memorials, they also visited the National Air and Space Museum.

Honor Flight trips have been called "the experience of a lifetime" for veterans.

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For the oldest veteran on the trip, it was his first time in the nation’s capital and he says he loved the experience. 

"I wouldn’t miss it for nothing!" 98-year-old Vietnam vet Curtis Bentley said. "If I can come another day – I’m going to come again. This is wonderful!"

All transportation costs are covered by Honor Flight. 

In total, Thursday’s trip hosted three World War II, 33 Korean War, and 76 Vietnam War veterans.

Jerry Warren served in the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1969.

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"March 3, 1968 I was wounded – hit by strap metal from a 122 millimeter rocket in Vietnam. I could’ve come back during the time, but I begged to go back to the field because I felt like I could protect my man and I went back to serve my time," Warren told FOX 5. 

 The Honor Flight landed at Dulles Airport around 9:30 a.m. and departed at 7:30 p.m. A quick, yet incredibly meaningful trip for our nation’s heroes.

This is the 16th year for the Honor Flight. They expect to reach a huge milestone of having served 250,000 veterans soon.