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Borderland combat veterans visit 7 war memorials during Honor Flight trip

7 war memorials seen during Honor Flight visit

Washington D.C. - It was a once in a lifetime trip for 30 combat veterans who traveled from El Paso and Las Cruces to Washington D.C. for a special Honor Flight mission.

They landed in Baltimore, Maryland on Wednesday night where the group of World War Two, Korea and Vietnam veterans was warmly greeted with salutes, handshakes and cheers from airport crowds.

After a night of rest, the troops took to downtown D.C. early Thursday morning.

They began their schedule with a trip to the World War Two memorial, which was only built back in 2004 and have never been visited before by most of the men. 

There was a wreath laying ceremony, complete with a honor guard and bag pipes.

"This is just so special to me," said Vietnam veteran Joe Vargas. "Something that I will always remember."

There was no shortage of tears shed at the Vietnam Memorial, where the vets looked up the names of fallen war buddies, with much needed help from their fellow honor flight brothers in arms.

"It's a good feeling," said former tank commander Glenn Gray. "These are people that know what you went through They understand. Unless you were there, you will never understand fully."

The group enjoyed a presentation and lunch at the U.S. Naval Memorial and then at the Korean War memorial, they heard from a Brigadier  General representing the south Korean army."

The general personally thanked the several Honor Flight members who had served in that conflict and presented them with special medals of recognitions and heroism on behalf of the south Korean government.

At one point, the men were walked through a group of 100 middle school students from a nearby Virginia school.

Some of the kids had personalized posters and signs of thanks that they gave to specific soldiers.  

And later, not even a considerable rain and thunder storm could stop the honor flight from taking in the solemn changing of the guard ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

By days end, the group successfully saw 7 memorials, thanks in large part to the dozens of volunteers and organizers that made the trip possible.

The journey comes to a close Friday afternoon with a homecoming ceremony for the men as they disembark at the El Paso Airport.

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