GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WXMI) — Back in early June, dozens of veterans arrived at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids for a trip they would never forget.
“I didn’t sleep maybe an hour last night, so that’ll tell you I was really looking forward to being here," said Nedro Carmichael, who fought in the Vietnam War from 1965-67 with the Green Berets.
Carmichael was just one of 80 veterans at GRR that day. They all served our country for years, with many of them putting their lives on the line.
As a way to say 'thank you,' Mid-Michigan Honor Flight took these veterans on a trip to Washington, D.C.
When the plane touched Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the veterans were met with open arms and graced with a group of people singing classic, patriotic American anthems.
While it was a day to celebrate their time in service, it was also a day to honor their comrades who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The veterans started by watching the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, located at the Arlington National Cemetery. From there, they went to the World War II Memorial, the Korean Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial, before finishing up at the Air Force Memorial.
“Awe-inspiring," said Robert Sugden, a former Marine Corps Sergeant, after the changing of the guards. "It was almost overwhelming."
Sugden added, “The whole trip has been tiring for a guy 91 years old, but it was something of a lifetime."
“Their faces, their eyes, they say something to you," said Joseph Daratony, as his hands grazed across the faces of his fellow soldiers at the Korean Wall. "Love you all.”
Regarding the experience as a whole, Carmichael said he felt like he was "on Cloud 9. I’m telling you, it’s like being on Cloud 9. It’s wonderful.”