Borderland veterans to visit memorials honoring their service thanks to Honor Flight

Borderland veterans take off on a...

EL PASO, Tx - Veterans will be taking off from El Paso International Airport Thursday morning on a trip they will never forget. 

27 veterans who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam will be heading to Washington D.C. to see their war memorials. 

The trip comes at no cost to the heroes, and is put together entirely by volunteers from the Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico.

Charles Berry Sr., served during the Korean War. He was able to on on the flight this morning at the last minute. 

"After all these years, you know, having served in the Navy -- The Honor Guard of Southern New Mexico doing this for us is fantastic," said Berry.  

Police and military members lined up near security to applaud the veterans as they made their way to the gate. 

"It's an amazing thing to see," said Honor Flight of Southern New Mexico chairwoman Lisa Hernandez. "We pack kleenex in the bags because, you know, from the minute you touch down, to when you get back, it's just an emotional, emotional thing."

Ken Hughley is on active duty at Fort Bliss. He volunteered to help Honor Flight passengers with their luggage this morning, and said seeing the servicemen and women made him feel inspired. 

"I've just seen a lot of stuff on their jacket with infantry, and Marine Corps," said Hughley. "Just a diverse crowd coming together, making it one family."

White Sands Missile Range Brig. Gen. Eric Sanchez lead the veterans in special oath, and they were presented with certificates. 

The National Guard Honor Guard held a flag folding ceremony, in which they folded four flags. The first was in memory of all Borderland veterans who died without the chance to see their memorial. 

WW II veteran Ernesto Santoscoy had a flag folded in his honor; his brothers Manuel and Louis will be passengers on the Thursday morning flight. 

The third and fourth flags were folded to honor WWI veteran, Pvt. Henry Heidtman who was never afforded military honors at his funeral, and Vietnam War veteran 1st. Sgt. Timothy W. Heidtman, Sr.

The U.S. Honor Flag will be lit on the tarmac for the Honor Flight passengers to see as they take off to Washington. 

The Honor Flight network encompasses 131 hubs in 45 states. 

In 2016, the network flew a total of 20,558 veterans back to Washington D.C.

Currently, there are 27,272 veterans are on the waiting list across the country. 

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