Watch KXAN photojournalist Frank Martinez’s story on the all-women Austin Honor Flight in the video player above.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thirty-six women veterans who served in the Korean Conflict, Vietnam War/Era or the Cold War took a flight to Washington, D.C., for a “trip of a Lifetime” Friday.
The trip by Honor Flight is a tribute to the veterans to honor and thank them for their service and to visit the military monuments and memorials.
“What we’ve found out with every single flight is that souls, hearts, and minds our healed” said Matt Mathias, Chairman of Honor Flight Austin.
The 77th trip for Honor Flight Austin departed Friday 12:40 p.m. from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. This particular All-Women flight is the third to come from Austin.
Women veterans participate in co-ed Honor Flights, but the unique All-Women flight trip is tailored to an itinerary more specific for the women’s military service which is typically not included in all Honor Flights.
“I’ve never really been to Washington DC to see the memorials and to see all that they’ve put up there for us veterans,” said Paula Guzman, an Air Force veteran on the flight.
The pre-flight process began at 9:30 a.m. with staff helping arrivals to offload at the airport and check bags. The HFA veterans, guardians, and staff flew with Southwest Airlines Flight #2257. A bagpipe pre-flight procession accompanied the veterans.
“To see the first generation of women humbles me because I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them,” said Cheryl Murray, an Air Force veteran who came to watch the board
The group will return Saturday to Austin and will be greeted with an HFA Welcome Home Celebration, and will take place at the United Airlines ticketing counters. The Welcome Home Celebration will be at the center of the concourse and welcomes everyone to help greet the U.S. Veterans home. Family and friends of the veterans will be present to participate in this celebration.
The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization. The program recognizes veterans from all branches of military service to share in a day of honor. Their website provides more detail on this invaluable experience for veterans.
“The Honor Flight Network is a national network of independent Hubs working together to honor our nation’s veterans with an all-expenses paid trip to the memorials in Washington, D.C., a trip many of our veterans may not otherwise be able to take. Participation in an Honor Flight trip gives veterans the chance to share this momentous trip with other veterans, to remember friends and comrades lost, and share their stories and experiences with each other,” the Honor Flight Network website wrote.