‘I wouldn’t trade it for anything': Veterans honored with trip to see war memorials in Washington D.C.

This week, for the sixth time, some of the Bay area's oldest veterans were treated to a very special trip.

The Polk County Veterans Council sponsors a flight to honor the brave men and women who fought overseas in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

"Today was one of the most exciting days I've had in years," shared Korean War veteran Forrest Miles. "The Korean (War) Memorial in Washington D.C. was absolutely wonderful."

"This is my fifth flight and I learn something new every day... every time I go," shared Sean Sweat, the Flight to Honor guardian who accompanies veterans on the trip to Washington D.C.

The Polk County Veterans Council saves up funds and takes in donations to put on these non-stop flights from Lakeland Linder Airport to Washington D.C. Once there, they take the veterans to visit the memorial for whichever war they fought in.

"I've never been to Washington D.C. before, this was my very first trip, so seeing all the memorials we did was astonishing... you know, breathtaking," Miles said.

And that's the point of each trip.

"It's just as important and just as moving every time I go," stated Sweat. "And I enjoy every minute of it." 

READ Tampa volunteers escorting body of WWII veteran to Kentucky in three-day journey

The Veterans Council arranges for family, friends, and active duty servicemen and women to greet the veterans upon their return to Lakeland.

That way every veteran feels welcomed home regardless of what their experience was returning from actual combat.

"And all the people that greet you on your return, that's just great," recalled Miles.

"It's a long day, but it's fun and I wouldn't trade it for anything," Sweat said.

READ At 100, Bay Area veteran looks back on driving for Gen. Patton, stealing sauerkraut from Nazis

The Polk Veterans Council provides the flight at no cost for veterans. Priority is given to those with severe medical conditions followed by World War II veterans, Korean War veterans and Vietnam War veterans. 

LINK: Click here to learn more about ‘Flight to Honor'.


Download our free news app

Sign up for our daily newsletter