ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) –Veterans with the Honor Flight of the Appalachian Highlands came home Saturday evening and were celebrated this time.

After a weekend-long trip in Washington D.C., veterans return home grateful for the trip they had. “And it impacted me, I mean it’s one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life,” said John Brooks.

Brooks is a Vietnam Navy veteran who came back from his first trip on the Honor Flight. Honor Flight’s goal was met with him: honoring him in a way he never had.

“When I got back from ‘nam, I didn’t get a welcome home and they made the point of saying ‘this is your welcome home that a lot of you guys didn’t get’,” said Brooks.

This trip was also a way for veterans to bond and connect over their experiences.

“I told some tails and showed them some pictures and they showed me some. It was just awesome,” said Richard Sells, a guardian on the trip and veteran himself.

“I met a lot of guys that I had a lot in common with and we laughed and cried maybe a little bit together and just had a great time, “said John Brooks.

Photo: Honor Flight of the Appalachian Highlands

The first female veteran to be honored by the Honor Flight of the Appalachian Highlands, Nancy Gosselin, was honored in numerous ways on this trip. She visited the Women’s War Memorial and was presented with a Quilt of Valor, which is a special quilt blanket given to a veteran touched by war.

“I’m awestruck. I don’t know how to feel. I’m just honored,” said Gosselin.

The other veterans presented her with roses to further signify the symbol she’s kept throughout the trip: a rose among thorns. It seems being around 19 other men for a weekend wasn’t too bad for Gosselin.

“It was nice to be around them. They are good people,” said Gosselin.

Gosselin holding her roses from the other veterans.

This trip was also a moment to honor those who lost their lives in war.

Sells got the chance to see his best friend on the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Paddle 18 Row 4. Brooks also found a man he had served with in Vietnam, Les Moe, who was with Seal Team 1 of the U.S. Navy.

“I got to touch his name and see his name,” said Brooks, “he was a courageous guy that I served with.” It made him remember a scripture of service, John 15:13.

“This guy possibly saved a lot of lives, because he was out front of everybody,” said Brooks.

Veterans back home from Washington D.C.

The next Honor Flight trip to Washington D.C. is scheduled for April 2023. You can apply as a veteran, to volunteer or to be a guardian by messaging the Honor Flight of the Appalachian Highlands Facebook page.