Veterans elicit cheers, tears while being honored at San Antonio airport

War veterans depart on weekend trip to nation's capital

By Alicia Barrera - Multimedia Journalist, Azian Bermea - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - Decades after serving and protecting our nation, a group of war veterans departed for the nation’s capital Friday morning as part of an honor flight. Twenty veterans were each escorted by a loved one, and together they boarded the 12th flight of the non-profit organization, Honor Flight San Antonio.

Some airport travelers clapped, others shed tears as the veterans dressed in red were wheeled through Terminal A of the San Antonio Airport.

John Bregel, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, is one of the military members being honored this weekend. Bregel served four years in the Vietnam War. He says Friday’s welcome was much more patriotic than the day he returned to the U.S. in 1975.

“We didn’t wear our uniforms. No one wanted to see them. We were a bad reminder, (but) now we're being honored,” Bregel said.

Unlike Bregel, Richard Rios says he opted to wear his Army uniform the day he returned home from Vietnam. Rios said he was welcomed in San Antonio by his mother, father and sisters.

Joining the Vietnam veterans are 10 others who fought in Vietnam, six who served during the Korean War and two WWII veterans. Once in Washington, the group of twenty will visit the memorials that honor their sacrifice and of those who were killed overseas.

“I'm looking forward to visiting all the memorials … and identifying some of the people I served with. Their names are on the wall,” Rios said.

Since the non-profit organization’s establishment five years ago, more than 300 veterans have boarded 12 flights, including Friday’s. Brian Posten, a board member of the organization says they plan to continue raising funds to give back to military veterans who are willing and able to travel to Washington, D.C.

“Our next trip will be in May. Hopefully, the airlines will have more availability on their flights,” Posten said.

The military veterans are scheduled to return to San Antonio Saturday night.

For more on the organization visit its page.

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