BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — After three days of visits to historical war memorials and spending time with fellow servicemen, the 44th honor flight has made it back home.
The last stop of the trip is at Fort McHenry which inspired the star-spangled banner. But despite all the amazing visits, many of the vets said it’s the people they meet along the way that brings them hope.
“We probably encountered 500 or 600 kids. They stand to the side, and they wave, and they clap. It is so amazing,” said Army Vietnam Veteran Barbara Tarpley.
At the first stop of the day, the Marine Corps War memorial, the line of people greeting this honor flight wrapped around the entire memorial.
One by one each group passing by, whether tourists or students on field trips, decided to join.
Many cried, including two boys that touched one vet's heart.
“They were probably eight or ten or something like that. Just so sweet and they had tears coming down their face,” said Tarpley.
She stopped to ask if they were okay and the boys shared, they had family that fought in wars. Tarpley said it was nice to see the history being passed on to the younger generation.
“They see a lot of old people, but not these kids. These kids saw heroes,” said Tarpley.
Before this trip, Barbara Tarpley said she did not feel like a hero as she did not serve in combat, which is why she did not want to come on the flight.
But this trip has changed that perspective and she hopes other vets sign up for the next flights.
Like Tarpley, many of these vets had been putting it off for one reason or another.
“Wish I had done it sooner, with this group they are the best,” said Vietnam Navy Veteran Fred Cisneros.
This group, now forever bonded as the 44th Kern County Honor flight.
Although we boarded the plane, the trip was not over yet.
The tears continued as vets read letters sent to them from family members.
Once they landed, were able to thank them in person.