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Honor Flight 2022 Day Two | Veterans visit nation's memorials

85 San Diego veterans tour WW II Memorial and Tomb of the Unknown.


Honor Flight 2022 | Day two

Eighty-five veterans from San Diego are in Washington, DC on an all-expense-paid trip. CBS 8 photojournalist Scott Hall and I are the only television crew from San Diego on the three-day journey. Today, veterans who served during World War II and Korean War visited the nation's memorials.

The national mall was filled with Americans lined up to honor the Greatest Generation. They're the greatest because when they were young, they saved the world, returned home and quietly went back to work raising families. 90-year-old Lou Benavides will always be a proud father and soldier.  

Credit: CBS 8

We found him surrounded by his family in tears. "Oh, my goodness, I cannot describe it, I just want to cry. It's great to be a veteran, it's great to be living here in a free country," said Mr. Benavides.

Credit: Lou Benavides

The Greatest Generation put themselves in harm's way during our nation's darkest hours. Names of casualties on headstones create confusion. Why did some die while others made it home? 

"I lost a lot of friends, I lost a lot of buddies, I'm alive, that is the main thing," said 100-year-old Army veteran Pete Sanzo. He stormed the beaches of Normandy. "It's crazy, kill people for nothing, you know but that is part of life," said Mr. Sanzo.

Credit: CBS 8

The purpose of Honor Flight is to allow these veterans a chance to see the memorials they fought for with their own eyes. "I saw this flag go up, and they were trying to get this old rusty pole to stand up," said Marine Pastor Pete Mayfield. He watched Marines raise two victory flags at Iwo Jima; to see it again captured in bronze. "It just means the world, it just brings back all of the memories," said Pastor Mayfield.

RELATED: Honor Flight 2022: 85 American heroes fly to Washington D.C.

Nearly 80 years later, the Greatest Generation is letting go of their grief and celebrating their success. "It's great to be alive, to be a veteran. This is a great country that we can get together and love one another. I feel joyful, I feel great I feel like I am renewed again. I get emotional," said Mr. Benavides.

RELATED: Honor Flight San Diego flies to Washington, D.C with 85 senior veterans

Participation in an Honor Flight trip gives veterans the opportunity to share this momentous occasion with other comrades, to remember friends and comrades lost. The Honor Flight Network was formed in 2005 by Jeff Miller and Earl Morse. While originally focused on honoring our nation's World War II veterans, the Honor Flight Network now also honors those who served in the Korean War, Vietnam War, intermediary operations, and in special cases of terminal illness or injury, veterans from more recent service eras. Since its formation in 2005, the Honor Flight Network has taken more than 245,000 veterans to Washington D.C.

On Sunday, the veterans return to San Diego for a hero's homecoming. Honor Flight is an all-volunteer, donation-based non-profit organization.  To learn more information, click here.

WATCH RELATED: Honor Flight 2022: 85 American heroes fly to Washington D.C. (April 2022).

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