FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Dozens of Valley veterans began the trip of a lifetime Monday morning.
They are the 66 veterans part of the 9th Central Valley Honor Flight, and excitement filled Fresno Yosemite International as veterans received the ultimate thank you for their service.
The group of four women and 62 men represented the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, Army Air Corps and the Air Force.
"We wouldn't be here without them, without their service or sacrifice," Central Valley Honor Flight vice president Paul Loeffler said. "You know, our community is what it is because of them and what they did."
The program started three years ago, taking World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans to see their war memorials.
They were sent off in style as country music star Jack Hannah performed "God Bless America."
"You see people from all walks of life," Loeffler said. "You know conservative, liberal, everything in between. Here's something we can all come together for, celebrate the veterans who paid for our freedom."
Veterans like the five Fries brothers, who served back to World War II at the Battle of the Buldge, went.
"One other Marine, two Army men and a Merchant Mariner," Bob Fries explained. "We covered three wars."
This is the first time in years that the Fresno natives have been together. The oldest of the Fries brothers, in a last-minute decision, stated that he's not taking the flight with his brothers.
"He was in the Battle of the Buldge, was wounded a couple of times," Bob said. "And he worked his way up from a private to a major before he got out after 20 years."
Once they return, the Fries brothers say they plan on raising money so other veterans can take in their Washington DC experience.