TONIGHT: Last Honor Flight of 2018, veterans look forward to big welcome home

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Dozens of heart of Illinois veterans spent Tuesday in Washington D.C. enjoying the last Honor Flight of 2018. This flight is particularly special for one local school.

Sgt. Richard Moss is a Vietnam Veteran who went on the Honor Flight back in May. Both he and his wife, Carol, said the experience changed him.

“He has opened up more. I’ve heard him talk more now about Vietnam than I ever did,” said Carol.

For Richard, and thousands of other Vietnam veterans, coming home from the war was a harrowing experience of people shouting and spitting at you.

What he got in Peoria coming off the May Honor Flight, couldn’t have been more different.

“It was overwhelming. It never dawned on me that it would be that many people. It just sent chill down your…and they got my sons…my sons were there,” said Sgt. Moss.

Richard now uses his experience to encourage as many veterans as he can to go on the Honor Flight. It even inspired his wife to sign on as a volunteer.

“I knew immediately I’m going to volunteer,” said Carol, “I’m going to help out in some way. And I don’t care how, just, and I will be at every Honor Flight from now on.”

Tuesday night is the last Honor Flight of this year; a special fourth trip scheduled because of a surge of interest, and to help out a local school.

Forty alumni from Spaulding-Burgen are flying out specifically for their classmates whose names adorn the Vietnam War Memorial.

“Four of the guys on this list, I had classes with at Spaulding,” said Sgt. Moss, “I think of back when we were kids, their young faces…it’s just very important. And it’s just going to be a great honor to go on this.”

More than anything, that is what draws Vietnam veterans to come on these flights. They recognize their service was appreciated, if not when they first came back, it is now.

“There’s gonna be a lot of tears. A lot of tears for just about everyone on that flight. It’s gonna be overwhelming,” he said.

The veterans land at Peoria International Airport at 9:30 PM Tuesday night, but you’re encouraged to arrive early.

Molly Jirasek

Molly Jirasek

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