An amazing journey wrapped up last night for 25 world war two veterans from central Texas. Fox 7's Rudy Koski was the only broadcast reporter to go along for the inaugural Honor Flight from Austin. It was a part of a journey that was much more than a trip to a war memorial.
The national World War II Memorial is located between familiar sites; the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
It's a fitting place to honor those who saved the nation, like 18-year-old J.V. McClannanhan. Time has faded his picture, from 1944, but not the resolve in the man who traveled from his home in lulling to be part of the Honor Flight-Austin tour.
"Its impressive all of it," said McClannanhan.
US Senator John Cornyn greeted the 25 Central Texas veterans who made the trip to the massive war memorial. It's flanked by two arch ways; one representing the Pacific -- the other for the Atlantic war theater.
"It just reawakens, maybe you'd call it patriotism in me," said WWII Veteran Tom Matthews.
With their honor flight guardians at their side, the warriors circled the site. They passed by old photographs, left by other visitors, but one image appeared very familiar to Alvino Mendoza. It was part of a sculpture of a navy gunner fighting back dive bombers. Mendoza walked up and pointed to the image on the wall.
"I use to stand right about in here," he said.
Other battle scenes are depicted along the walkway. But the message, according to Arnold Mathias is not just about a warrior's pride, but legacy.
"Lets not do it again, I got a hanging thing in my den, that's says it sure helps to know where you are going, if you know where you've been."
The cost was remembered as a flag that flew over the Texas capitol was placed at a section dedicated to servicemen and women from the lone start state. It was a brief ceremony, but the emotional mark it left could easily be seen on every face.
Their journey may have ended here but for each and every one of them it began as a young man who answers the call to duty.
They came from different towns, different backgrounds but had a common resolve.
"Hitler was going to take over and we couldn't have that," said John Zalaznik who will turn 99 years old in August.
Their courage was recognized at each memorial the veterans visited.
It was an emotional journey for each veteran .For former bomber pilot Bill Donohue, there was a personal side trip during a stop at Arlington National Cemetery.
"I never saw the grave stone; I'd like to see that," said Donohue.
The visit to his wife's gravesite was arranged while the group gathered to see the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown.
In time Donohue says he will return to her, but it was also time for all of them to go home. Family and friends were at the airport as the honor flight veterans returned. It a celebration of a life long journey, that's not quiet yet over.