22 veterans received a big ovation from people inside the Jacksonville International Airport as they received a special escort to their terminal for their early morning flight.
18 veterans served during the Vietnam War era. Four veterans served during both the Vietnam War and the Korean War eras.
They either served during the Vietnam War era, the Korean War era, or both.
Saturday was a special opportunity for Glenwood Outlaw and Shelly Moise. They both served in the U.S. Air Force.
Outlaw was a sergeant during the Vietnam War for three years. He spent time in Germany.
Moise had a 20-year career in the Air Force, even reaching the rank of master sergeant.
Moise is considered the guardian or volunteer to spend the day with Outlaw.
“It is a lot of reminiscing,” Outlaw said. “We have been talking about our times on Air Force bases, going through boot camp in some of the places that she was assigned to and compared to what I was assigned at. Just comparing the differences of the bases, what we did in the Air Force, places we travel to, and things of that nature. it is just a real strong friendship and brother and sisterhood.”
“I get to hear about his adventures in the Air Force and things that he experienced in the Air Force, which were very different from what I experienced in the Air Force, Moise said, who also experienced deployments in Saudi Arabia in 2002 and Africa in 2006. “It is nice to hear the different perspectives from a different time of service, a different job. [Outlaw] was in security forces, while I was in communications and computers.”
Saturday marked the fourth Honor Flight arranged by a group called First Coast Honor Flight to give these veterans a chance to visit renowned memorials in our nation’s Capital and thank them for their service.
Lena Heredia-Perez is the organization’s coordinator and treasurer and is also a U.S. Navy veteran.
“This is their day,” she said, who served from 2000-2004. “This is honestly all about them paying their final respects, and hopefully being at peace with the time that they served in the military, and what they have sacrificed.”
Some of the sites the veterans and their guardians visited in the jam-packed trip included the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, as well as the World War II, Vietnam, and Korean War Memorials.
Lori Garland was a specialist in the U.S. Army for three years during the Vietnam War. She said sharing this moment with her brothers and sisters in arms is humbling.
“At that time, things were limited for females,” Garland said about why she enlisted. “It was an opportunity for me to do something different. Something to be proud of to serve your country. The opportunity to be with other veterans, to share these moments together. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The next First Coast Honor Flight is scheduled for April 2024.
Since 2020, the First Coast Honor Flight has taken more than 100 veterans to Washington, D.C.