87 Eastern Iowa Veterans take trip of a lifetime

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 9:01 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Eighty-seven veterans from eastern Iowa embarked on the journey of a lifetime on Wednesday. They took part in an Honor Flight, which brings veterans from around the country to visit the memorials built in their honor in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a memory I’ll never forget,” one veteran said.

About two-thirds of the veterans on the Iowa honor flight fought in Vietnam. They said when they came back from the war, they didn’t get a hero’s welcome — but Wednesday was a different story.

Outstretched hands of gratitude from the welcoming party, and there were even outstretched paws from some furry friends. It’s a welcome Vietnam veteran Mike Marsh did not receive when he returned from his deployment.

“Got out in 1980 and I went to the phone company in Cedar Rapids, gave it my resume and everything I knew and I was told to directly to my face, ‘Oh, you’re a veteran. Should I be impressed?’” Marsh said.

On Wednesday with a full color guard, flanked by his brothers and sisters in war, he got to rewrite how his service was remembered. Marsh described the moment as “very, very moving, very exciting.”

One of two women veterans on Wednesday’s honor flight, Deb Gensley, agreed.

“Refreshing to know that patriotism still exists,” said the Navy veteran.

Eastern Iowa has a few more honor flights scheduled this upcoming fall. They say they’re made possible through donations.