Honor Flight Takes Off For DC: “I Can’t Wait To Get There”

The 18th Central Valley Honor Flight leaving Fresno Yosemite International (image courtesy of Vikkie Calderon)

FRESNO (KMJ) — A crowd of veterans and their guardians have left the Central Valley to start day one of the three-day 18th Central Valley Honor Flight.

Their departure from Fresno Yosemite International Airport Tuesday morning began with great fanfare, celebrating the veterans for their service.

“Some of you have heard this a lot, maybe some of you have never heard it before, but if there’s anything that we want you to receive from this experience it’s that you hear loud and clear sincerely from the bottom of our hearts: thank you for serving our country,” said Honor Flight Board Member Paul Loeffler.

Following the grand welcome, the veterans were led through to security and onto the plane to take them to Baltimore Washington International Airport. From there they will be transported to Washington DC.

“I can’t wait to get there,” said 89 year old Frank Parise, who served in the Navy during the Korean War. “I see my Korean veterans at Arlington. It’s like a bucket list for me.”

Parise added that his friends who were killed deserve the honor more than he does.

“We were all kids then, we were young, and you don’t realize until later what really happened and then it stays with you for the rest of your life.”

The group’s three-day itinerary includes the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and Arlington National Cemetery.

The veterans and their guardians are scheduled to return to Fresno Yosemite International Airport for a “Welcome Home” procession on April 11th at 6pm.

Hear the report from KMJ’s Dominic McAndrew as it aired: