Local veterans honored with trip to see memorials for the first time
Some of our local veterans are being honored in a special way this weekend.
Before the sun ever came up in the Tri-Cities, a group of veterans had their bags packed ready to make a very special pilgrimage.
The Honor Flight of Northeast Tennessee is sending 20 of our region's veterans to Washington D.C. to see American's national memorials and monuments.
"I want to see it. I don't know how it will affect me, but I'm going to learn some things," said Billy West, a Korean War veteran.
The cost of the trip is nothing. These fighters of freedom have already paid through sacrifice.
"It is the most phenomenal touching of my heart to be able to do this, and I'm trying not to cry, but I'll tell you, to see all this happening today is overwhelming," said Edie Lowry, president of Honor Flight Northeast Tennessee.
Many of these veterans have seen our local memorials, but they have never seen the national ones made in their honor. This will be their first time.
"I'm anxious to see it. [I've] been waiting to see it every since they put it in there," said Jackie Hodges, a World War II veteran.
"Everybody in this country ought to see that wall up there where all those people died, and I lived through it. [I] didn't get a scratch either," West said.
James Lamprecht, a Korean War veteran told News 5, "It'll bring back memories and some of the fellows that passed on."
We learned 95-year-old World War II veteran Lonnie Laws is getting a special honor of his own when they reach Arlington.
"They say I'm going to lay the wreath on the tomb [of the unknown soldier]," Laws told News 5 with a smile.
They are not being sent off to war, but these American heroes boarded their bus Friday morning with the love and support of the community.
"I just pray that this trip will be a time for remembrances for healing and for a good joyful time," said Shirley Ferguson, the wife of a veteran going on the trip.
This will be a three day trip these men are likely never to forget.
"It's something I'll cherish the rest of my life," said Lamprecht.
We're told the veterans will be coming back Sunday around 5:30 in the evening at the Ramada Inn off North Roan Street in Johnson City. The community is encouraged to welcome them home.
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