More than 100 veterans travel to Washington, DC for Honor Flight

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COLUMBIA - Veterans from three major wars flew to Washington D.C. early Tuesday morning for the final Central Missouri Honor Flight of the season. 

"A lot people haven't been told 'Welcome Home,'" Vietnam veteran Steve Gordon said. 

The honor flight took 103 veterans who served during the Korean War, Vietnam War and World War II to see their war memorials in Washington, DC, according to Honor Flight organizers.

The list of memorials includes: the WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Marine Corps Memorial, Air Force Memorial, Women in Military Service Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.

Gordon went on an honor flight in 2017.

"I don't think any of us expected it to be so emotional," he said. 

Gordon said he recognized several names of fallen soldiers at the Vietnam Memorial. 

"No one can go and come back and not feel like a lucky one. Period," Gordon said. 

He also said it often brings veterans closure. 

"A lot of veterans hold things back, because they don't want to share it with anyone," Gordon said.

But he said the flight is a safe space. 

"It doesn't matter what your social status is, or financial," Gordon said. "You're going on that bus as a veteran and you get treated the same."

He said he loved his own trip so much, he became a dedicated volunteer for Central Missouri Honor Flight.

Gordon said community support helps make the trip so successful.

"The veterans can't pay for anything," Gordon said.

The community puts on various fundraisers, including a tractor pull and golf tournaments, to help pay for the expenses.

Community Relations Director Shelley Becker said WWII and terminally-ill veterans get first priority for a seat on a flight. Gordon said Tuesday's flight will have one WWII veteran. 

"He's like everyone's hero," Gordon said.

Veterans will return to Columbia Tuesday night at 9:30.  

Becker said the next flight, which will take off in spring 2020, is not scheduled, but veterans can start applying now