Approximately 200 people came together for the Texas South Plains Honor Flight pre-trip event Wednesday evening inside the Lubbock High School dining hall to discuss their trip to Washington, D.C. Friday through Sunday.
Gary Vaughn, president of the Honor Flight, said the first flight happened in 2012.
“This is our sixth flight,” he said. “When we take a flight, we do one early fall. We take 143 people when we go. We charter a Southwest jet.”
Between 85 and 95 veterans are expected to make this year’s flight. Vaughn said guardians and staff make up for the remainder of the 143 seats on the flight to D.C.
Lubbock and Estacado High School JROTC students helped honor the veterans by escorting them from the east side parking lot into the dining hall.
Veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War are participating in this year’s event, Vaughn said.
Veterans, along with their guardians, were served a meal during what Vaughn called the pre-trip briefing. He said the point of the briefing is to discuss what will happen before everyone boards the jet, which is set to depart from Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport before sunrise Friday.
“We’ll hit every memorial (in D.C.),” said Vaughn. “The first stop on this trip will be the Capitol building.”
Then veterans will go to the WWII Memorial, he said.
Ray Suarez, an Air Force Vietnam veteran, sat with his daughter, Ana Anderson. Anderson said she was excited to go with her father to see the memorials in D.C.
Along with Suarez and Anderson were Wayne Moore, a Korean era veteran from the Navy, and Troy Johnson, who served in the Army during Vietnam and who sat with his wife Stacey Johnson at Thursday’s event.
Troy said he wanted to see the Western Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House.
One of the guest speakers to kick off the event was State Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, who commended the veterans and offered words of encouragement.
“Thank you for you service, thank you for the sacrifice,” he said. “Have a great time, and remember to not lose hope. We still have the best opportunities the world has to offer.”