BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It’s a chance to give military heroes the recognition many have been waiting for.
“Very emotional,” U.S. Marine Corps veteran Gil Cola said. “I don’t know what else to say, just very emotional. I’m kind of at a loss for words.”
After the 44th Kern County Honor Flight took off Monday, more than 90 veterans are headed to the U.S. capital to tour their memorials and receive national honors. Many of those veterans received less-than-warm welcomes when they came home from service.
“Some of the guys just burned their uniforms because they didn’t want people to know they were vets,” Cola said.
This spring, it’s not just combat veterans receiving long-overdue honors.
“We have two Rosies on this flight,” Honor Flight Kern County executive director Lili Marsh said.
Two Rosie the Riveters, women who stepped into manufacturing roles during World War II, will also make the trip to the capital.
“They’re 97 and 98, you would think they were 16, getting on this plane,” Marsh said. “I swear, they’re the cutest, spunkiest ladies of all time.”
Lynn Eckert is a Vietnam veteran. She was also the only female veteran on her Honor Flight last year.
Back this year as a guardian, Eckert says its important to recognize military women whose praises often go unsung.
“We served too. We need to be recognized too,” Eckert said. “Not so much for selfish reasons, but just to say, ‘Hey, we were a part of this country’s history too, just like the men were.”
Honor Flight Kern County will hold a ‘Welcome Home’ ceremony at the North High gymnasium Thursday night at 6 p.m.