WASHINGTON (KELO) — Midwest Honor Flight’s 10th mission to Washington, D.C. is in the books, celebrating 84 veterans from the Korean or Vietnam War-eras on Wednesday.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this, and it finally came,” Army veteran Eugene Sanow of Vermillion, S.D. said.

“It is a trip of a lifetime, and others have said that but this really is,” Gail Arnott of Wessington Springs, S.D. said.

Arnott is a veteran himself. On the trip, he served as guardian for fellow Air Force veteran Tom Olsen of Sioux Falls. Olsen shared what he was feeling at the Marine Corps War Memorial.

“Thinking about those real heroes of the war that didn’t come back,” he said.

A Midwest Honor Flight experience is a group experience.

“It really has enhanced our friendship, this is something to be here together,” Arnott said next to Olsen.

“We travel as a group, but every veteran to me is an individual that deserves the exact same recognition for their service and sacrifice,” said Aaron Van Beek, president and director of Midwest Honor Flight.

Next year brings the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War and the 50th anniversary of U.S. troops departing Vietnam. In 2022, Army veteran Wilmer Deibert of Ipswich, S.D. was feeling great to be a part of this day as a veteran.

“The people, they actually express themselves in appreciation of what we done, and that feels good, makes you feel good, even though it’s been a long time ago,” Deibert said.

For Army veteran Thomas Lease of Lincoln County, the experience is welcoming.

“My son was asking me, what happened when I come home,” Lease said. “It was my mom, my sister, my brother, my brother, and that was my welcome home committee. This is a welcome home committee for me, it is. It’s wonderful.”

“Whether they served stateside, whether they served in-country, whether they served two years, whether they were 20 years retired,” Van Beek said. “Every single veteran deserves this honor of getting an opportunity to see their memorials.”