Before dawn Monday, 79 World War II veterans from around Indianapolis made their way onto a bus headed to the Indianapolis International Airport.
The veterans were part of the first Central Indiana Honor Flight. The trips, made across the country, give aging veterans a final chance to see the WWII memorial in Washington D.C.
Monday's group included a who's who of Indianapolis veterans. Among them, Army nurse Phyllis Funk, who served overseas during the hardest parts of the war, including the Battle of the Bulge.
"I spent Christmas there, which was terrible, the saddest part of the war for me," Funk said.
So many years later, Funk and the other veterans stepped off a plane in Baltimore to be greeted by Honor Flight volunteers and active duty military members.
"Thank you for your service," they said while shaking each veteran's hand.
The group then boarded a bus to Washington D.C. As they arrived at the WWII memorial, each got a large photo of themselves during their military duty. The portraits formed a fitting backdrop for a larger photo of the Honor Flight veterans.
"I felt honored to be called to go," Funk said.
At 99 years old, Navy veteran Thomas Strawn was one of those who waited years for an Honor Flight to be organized in Indianapolis. Strawn took his time at the memorial, reflecting on more than just his own service.
"I just think about the guys that didn't come back, maybe they have it better than we do," Strawn said.
Organizers estimate that there are more than 1,000 qualified veterans in the Indianapolis area. They're hoping to build momentum and organize more flights as soon as possible for aging veterans. More information on getting involved is available online.
First Indy Honor Flight takes WWII veterans to D.C.