East Tennessee heroes on patriotic trip to DC

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Right now, more than 100 East Tennessee veterans are in the nation’s capital for a patriotic trip down memory lane. Our Washington Reporter Alana Austin caught up with the group from the Air Force memorial.

“I’ve been hoping to get on this for a long time. When I got the letter in the mail I even got teary-eyed," said Joe Filipowicz, Air Force veteran.

From Knoxville to the DC area, these 132 veterans of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam say it’s the trip of a lifetime.

“Very emotional. I was very honored to have served," said Thomas Berrong, Navy veteran.

This HonorAir Knoxville flight includes four World War Two veterans. 95-year-old Army veteran, James Dishman, used to organize Tennessee reunions for his old outfit, which invaded Normandy on D-Day. He says the trip brings back memories of those he served alongside.

“I’m the only one left, living, so that’s all it is," explained Dishman. “So it’s going to be real something for me.”

The group began at the Air Force Memorial. They’re also visiting the Arlington National Cemetery, the Navy and Marine memorials, as well as the memorials for the conflicts in which these veterans served.

“Makes your heart come up in your throat a little bit, tears come to your eyes," said Air Force and Army veteran, Kirk Kenner.

Volunteer Jill Green, who comes from a military family, helped Kenner get around for the day.

“I have an uncle who was one of the veterans on one of these flights...just wanted to help somebody else have a special day just like he did," explained Green.

“Something country boy’s like me not used to," joked Kenner.

This is the 27th honor flight for this non-profit - serving more than 3,500 veterans over the years. The group heads back to Tennessee tonight after the busy day. Organizers say a group is expected to be welcomed back home with a warm greeting at the airport.

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