FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Sixty-six of our hometown heroes are on the trip of a lifetime. Their Monday morning sendoff was just part of the recognition for their courage and service.
"It's important that they hear thank you from us. Because freedom isn't free, it's paid for in blood and lives," said Paul Loeffler, Central Valley Honor Flight.
It's all part of the 10th Central Valley Honor Flight. Since 2013, they've been giving war veterans the chance to come face to face with our nation's dedication to their service.
"They're going to meet a ton of people who come up and say thank you, and they're going to see the memorials to them and those they served with," said Loeffler.
Selmor Green an Army veteran, like many of the veterans on this trip, will be enjoying D.C. for the first time.
"I think that'll be exciting you know-- to see it up close."
Robert Thoman served in World War II when he was 18-years-old.
"Everybody did it in those days. It was an honor to serve your country."
Thoman said he's most looking forward to visiting Arlington National Cemetery to pay his respects to his best friend lost in the Korean War.
A tribute, he said, he's grateful was made possible thanks to our community.
"I'm glad to see the people now that are appreciating people that are serving their country now and are sacrificing a lot. It's really an honor for all these people to go and I'm really excited about it."
The Central Valley Honor Flight has raised more than $1.5 million since 2013, sending more than 500 veterans to our nation's capital.
Loeffler said, "So many of the veterans tell us every time everything in Washington was great, but the number one highlight was getting back to Fresno, seeing the huge crowd at the airport and having them cheer for us. That's the welcome home we never got 70 years ago."
That welcome home ceremony is this Wednesday at Fresno Yosemite International.