They've been called the greatest generation. Thursday night, 65 World War II veterans are returning home after a final flight to honor their service and sacrifice.
At 0530, World War II vets arrived at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport packed and ready for a final tour.
"It's great to be part of such a patriotic group," said Army veteran Harold Faris.
But this group is much older and wiser now. Many were just out of high school when they shipped out.
"I was only 18 when I went in, so I didn't know much of anything," said Faris.
"I came into the 87th as a corporal right out of Phillips High School ROTC," said Wardlaw "Stumpy" Watson, an Army vet. "When the Battle of the Bulge was over, there wasn't many officers left, so I became one of the officers."
Thursday was the final Birmingham Honor Flight and a final chance for some of these vets to see the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C..
"I'm looking forward to seeing it. I've been to Washington two or three times but I never thought I'd be able to see it," said Watson.
Navy vet Marshall Adams hopes to even find his name.
"I think I've got a brick in it. I bought a brick in it. I may spend all day looking for the darn brick," said Adams.
Their families hope they'll also find some peace.
"This will be a chance for him to look, remember and reflect and see other vets and share stories with him," said Ward Watson, Watson's son.
No doubt some of those stories will be of heroism and pride.
"We are the greatest generation perhaps. Hopefully, there will be other great generations to come," said Faris.
The flight is scheduled to return to Birmingham Thursday night.
A May 2011 honor flight was originally supposed to be the last. But this one was added because there were still so many vets waiting to go.
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