GRAY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tri-Cities veterans aboard the “Honor Flight” to Washington D.C. returned home Sunday afternoon from an unforgettable experience.

The organization takes local veterans to visit war memorials in the nation’s capitol.

Al Hughes, or Clarence to some, spent the past couple days in D.C. among fellow veterans reminiscing and remembering.

“It was great,” Hughes said. “Chilling.”

Hughes said it’s hard to really describe the experience.

“You can’t put it in words,” Hughes said. “Unless you’re a veteran, unless you’ve been in a place that some of these guys have been in.”

Luckily, Hughes was among veterans who knew just what he’s been through.

“I saw some of the greatest men that went on this trip, and the most humble men that was on this trip,” Hughes said.

The program has been on pause in the area due to the shutdown of the Northeast Tennessee chapter and the pandemic.

Honor Flight of the Appalachian Highlands President Michelle Stewart said watching the participants bond was a rewarding experience for her.

“We gave each of the veterans an opportunity to tell what they did in the service and what was memorable about the trip,” Stewart said. “Most of them said it was being there with other veterans and having that opportunity to be there and be honored.”

Also touched, were friends and family that came to the church to support the veterans in their lives.

“He was pretty much in tears when he heard he was going to go,” Fetterolf said as he awaited the return of his loved one.

Danny Edens was part of the crowd that gathered to welcome the group home. He’ll be making the trip himself one day.

“That trip is a special, special trip,” Edens said. “I’m looking forward to it myself. I’ve already been offered an application, and I just can’t say enough about the honor flight society.”

Hughes said he’d like to go back again, next time serving as a caretaker, and he’ll always remember the ones who were never able to make it home.

“We sacrificed some,” Hughes said. “They sacrificed it all.”