In three days and two nights, Kern County's World War II veterans saw it all. There were lots of smiles, a few tears, and dozens of tired feet. But, it certainly was a trip of a lifetime for everyone aboard.
They left in fanfare. All 90 veterans and their guardians on a private plane Tuesday.
Fire trucks sprayed their departure, and in Washington, D.C. folks from D.C.'s Honor Flight Network welcomed them to the capitol.
"Seeing the people get off the plane, thanking us for our service, that really affects me," said Bob Martin, an Honor Flight veteran.
This was only the beginning. Their first stop the next morning was the World War II Memorial.
"There's no words for it. It's just beautiful. To think that they went to a lot of trouble to get us here," said James Pellet, an Honor Flight veteran.
"Pretty impressive I'll tell ya. I've seen the other memorials, but this one for the first time, and it's pretty impressive," said Gene Peters, an Honor Flight veteran.
Many remembered the buddies they lost in the war.
They also remembered them at the Iwo Jima Memorial, especially Mel Wayne who fought in that battle.
"For once in my life, I am speechless. It's too emotional. I can't explain it. It's something I've been longing to see," said Wayne, an Honor Flight veteran.
Because of Honor Flight, Wayne was able to salute the memorial in his original dress blues.
Then it was on to Arlington National Cemetery. There, veterans watched the changing of the guard, tearing up when a soldier played taps.
Veterans then saw the Lincoln, Vietnam, and Korean Memorials.
"It's quite a thing for a little old boy from Weedpatch, California," said Leonard Francis, the oldest veteran on the trip at 96.
"Never thought I'd be here still," said Joseph Scottie, an Honor Flight veteran. "I started wearing this hat. No one knew what I was."
Then it was onto the Navy Memorial.
"I'm very proud to be able to be here," said Fred Valentich, an Honor Flight veteran. "The more I see of it, the more I appreciate our country."
For those who fought in the sky, Honor Flight then visited the Air Force Memorial where some recognized names.
"James Howard," said John Boydstun as he pointed to the name of the man he knew in the service. According to Boydstun, Howard flew right in the middle of German airplanes that were about to land in a group of B17s. "He broke up the whole group, one man."
The next day, veterans got the V.I.P treatment at the capitol. They saw former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
"It will probably be one of the most memorable things I've ever done in my life," said Bob Lechtreck, an Honor Flight veteran.
Strangers thanked our veterans for their service all along the trip, including 5th graders from South Carolina.
"It's really made me appreciate all that's gone into giving me my life of 85 years," said Don Grahm, an Honor Flight veteran.
On the plane ride home, Honor Flight sprung a surprise on the vets... mail call. Each veteran got a pack of letters from Kern County kids.
They were finally welcomed home, by fire trucks first, then the community.
"Rough on the feet and the legs, but it was well worth it," said Lechtreck.
It was well worth it to the community to send their World War II heroes on one last mission.
"It's an honor and a privilege, and I'll never forget it," said Valentich.