Dozens of San Diego-area World War II veterans, returning from a special trip to Washington, D.C. Sunday, were greeted with cheers and applause at Lindbergh Field.
The spectacular reception was arranged for about 80 veterans who took a whirlwind trip that included the World War II memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam, Korea and Iwo Jima memorials.
Veteran Bud Vander Schaaf called the welcome, “Fantastic, the only word to describe it.”
“Absolutely amazed,” Dusty Ward said of the reception. “San Diego really turned out to welcome us home.”
Ward was in the second wave in Iwo Jima and volunteered to carry wounded Marines from inland to a hospital ship.
“I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world. Thanks a lot for being here,” Ward said.
At 90, Louis Segal said the sight of all those there to welcome him home he wanted to cry.
“It was incredible. I really appreciate it,” he said.
Segal served in the Navy for 12 years including WWII and the Korean War.
“No matter where we went, we met people like this,” Segal said of the honor flight.
Army veteran Clancy Meeter served from Omaha Beach “all the way to the end,” he said. For him, the trip reinforced his national pride.
The vets loved the trip, the reception back home, and above all, serving their country.
Robert Mitchell told NBC 7 that seeing the WWII memorial in person was unlike anything he had ever seen.
"It's far more impressive in person than any picture you could see,” Mitchell said.
The trip was paid by Honor Flight San Diego, a non-profit created solely to honor America's veterans by flying them to see war memorials on the other side of the country.