7th Central Valley Honor Flight completes mission

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The seventh Central Valley Honor Flight mission is complete. Thursday night, 65 veterans returned home to Fresno after touring military monuments in the nation's capital.

The cheers are unlike any other for these World War II and Korean War veterans. They knew a homecoming ceremony would be there to greet them as they arrived from Washington, D.C., but the gratitude and support they received is beyond their expectations. The trip, donated to these war heroes, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"It took you back 70 years. It was a wonderful time of comradery with all of us," said Jack Hover, a World War II veteran with the U.S. Navy. Hover says a moment at the World War II Memorial was extremely emotional, in a good way. He said, "It was heart-rending, but it was unbelievable the job they've done and the things they did for us."

Local Korean War veteran -- and one of the most recognized veterans advocates in Central California -- Charlie Waters -- also took the Honor Flight. He, like all the others on the trip, met with lots of tourists in Washington, D.C. -- poignant moments for younger generations to meet many from a rapidly diminishing population of military heroes. "I wouldn't trade them for anything because I've learned that American youth is hope," said Waters.

These visits to historic monuments are big moments in these veterans' lives. "We hear a lot of stories, but they were there. So that's even more of a connection than we'll ever have," said Dana Aldridge of Madera Ranchos.

The Central Valley Honor Flight now logging -- in less than two years -- more than 500 donated visits to our nation's capital. The eighth Central Valley Honor Flight leaves in October from Castle Airport in Atwater.
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