Veterans from across the heart of Illinois will be flying to Washington D.C. early Tuesday morning.
It’s all for the first Greater Peoria Honor flight of 2019.
Heart of Illinois ABC’s Mason Dowling will be travelling along with our veterans, starting at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
More than 70 local veterans and their sponsors will take off from Peoria International Airport at 6:30 a.m.
Last week, East Peoria students put together care packages for the vets taking the trip.
The vets will have a whirlwind day starting with Arlington National Cemetery and the Changing of the Guard. Then, they’ll head to the WWII Memorial, The Korean War Monument, and the Vietnam Wall, plus several other monuments.
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Many veterans stopped here to find names of people they served with. Several of them rubbed the names onto a piece of paper that they can take home with them. The names are not alphabetical – they are inscribed in order of their deaths. There are books available to help people find where their loved ones' names are.
The grand finale comes Tuesday night at PIA, the sound of bagpipes and cheers from the community will welcome our veterans home.
“Being a Vietnam veteran that never got that ‘thank you’ when we got home, It’s just above and beyond….You can’t imagine,” said Randy Prunty, a Vietnam vet from Woodford County.
Heart of Illinois ABC is asking you to come out to PIA starting around 8:00 p.m. You can park near the CEFCU Bank, where shuttles will bring you to the terminal.
“This is the last generation of children that can shake the hand of a World War II veteran in person and thank them for their service,” said Phyllis Piraino with the Greater Peoria Honor Flight, “So we feel it’s very important to be a part of history. Bring your kids out to the airport.”
The plane is expected to land around 9:30 p.m., and by 10:00 p.m. the vest are expected to make their grand return.
“There’s beautiful letters, signs, memorabilia. It’s just something you need to be a part of. If you’re thinking about going, come out and join it,” said Prunty.