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Honor Flight CCC takes flight on largest trip ever

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Posted at 11:07 AM, Apr 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-24 14:20:05-04

Honor Flight Central Coast California took off from Santa Maria Public Airport Monday morning with a record 75 veterans onboard.

Seventy-five Central Coast vets are on an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. to check out the memorials that honor their service in the U.S. military. This trip featured a first for Honor Flight Central Coast California: A chartered, direct flight to our nation’s capital. KSBY Daybreak Anchor Neil Hebert spoke to a few vets before takeoff to get their outlook on their trip.

“I'm sure looking forward to going to Washington to see what they got. I was there once back in the early '80s and went to visit some of the museum, but I can just imagine what it's like now. It's going to be a great experience for me. I'm looking forward to it,” said Vietnam veteran Blas Sanchez.

“Europe, Canada, Jamaica, Cuba, France, Italy, Sicily, Turkey, Greece. I can't even remember all the places that I went. It was quite a trip,” said David McGinley, a Navy veteran. “My wife put my name on the list. I didn't even know I was on the list until they called me up and told me. And here I am. I'm looking forward to it.”

“The fellowship is tremendous. We had an experience, I think, when we came home that nobody would want to hear about the Vietnam War, what we went through. It's a lot of us kind of isolated and closed off for a long time, and I think there's some damage,” said Esteban Valenzuela, a Vietnam Marine veteran. “I can see that even today we get together with these guys and we can open up and have a few laughs and talk about what would happen in a in a light way instead of a heavy way.”

The group of vets and their guardians will land back in Santa Maria on Wednesday night around 7:15. Anyone can come to the Santa Maria Public Airport and welcome home the veterans.