WASHINGTON D.C., - A number of Michigan veterans took the trip of a lifetime Sunday, and some notable former Detroit Lions got to tag along.
An honor lifted out of Kalamazoo Airport around 5:30 a.m. and transported 77 veterans and 10 former Detroit football players to Washington D.C. The non-profit Talons Out sponsored the honor flight with the National Football League. Even in the minutes and hours after the reception, the reviews were great.
"Oh, this was fantastic, this is just unbelievable," said one veteran, tearing up as he talked.
"I don't have the words right now," said another veteran, before settling on an appropriate term. "Appreciation."
The free day trip to the nation's capital is put on by the Talons Out, a nonprofit based out of West Michigan. For many, the royal treatment exhibited a rush of nostalgia and triggering of memories of service.
"We lost so many people, but we thought we were doing the right thing," said one man.
The wars that many of these veterans fought in span the breadth of the 20th century, including 14 from World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. The journey didn't just include a tour of the country's tributes to the service of these men. NFL greats like former Lions Wide Receiver Herman Moore tagged along.
"It's been one of those things where it allows you to learn a lot about yourself as a person but more importantly to bond with someone who is a true hero," he said.
Herman Moore was paired with a man by the same last name: David Moore, who fought in Vietnam. For him, the occasion was an emotional one.
"I'm a 100 percent PTSD, so a lot of things I suppress, I brought out today more than what I would usually bring out to anybody," said Moore.
And to conclude a long day was a homecoming at the Air Zoo Museum in Kalamazoo, where hundreds of people stood waiting for their servicemen to return home.
Be on the lookout for more stories like these on FOX 2. There are two more parts to this story, which will air Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 p.m.
Find out more about the Talons Out honor flight at talonsouthonorflight.org