OWENSBORO, KY (WFIE) - 20 Owensboro area veterans got the welcome home they never received when returning from war.
“O God! I’ve never had a reception as such!” said Walter S. Gainey Jr., a Korean War veteran.
“They were lined up and that was so rewarding!” said Carl Hawes, a Korean War veteran.
Many visiting the nation’s capital and the war memorials for the first time.
“I grew up hearing them war stories," Hawes said. "And to see it and pay tribute to it was magnificent.”
For Gainey, a 38 year military vet, this trip meant even more because he was able to be reunited with his wife of more than 50 years, at Arlington National Cemetery.
“I went to my dearly departed wife’s grave, and I paid respects and that was the highlight," Gainey said.
Gainey’s wife died in 2016 unexpectedly and while he was in the hospital. He could not attend her funeral or burial at Arlington Cemetery. She was buried at Arlington because of the amount of time her husband served. So Honor Flight made that moment possible.
“I can’t even tell you it just came over me," he said. "She was there, her presence.”
The emotional moment is something Gainey will never forget.
Neither will his fellow veterans.
“It’s acre after acre of dead soldiers," Hawes said. "All buried in honor.”
The group agrees this is something they hope all veterans can experience.
“Do it," Gainey said. "That’s all I can say. Do it.”