TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A group of local heroes left Tyler Thursday morning on the trip of a lifetime, to see the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C..
Thirty East Texas World War II veterans were chosen to travel on a three-day, all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. courtesy of the Brookshire's Grocery Company.
The veterans, their traveling companions, and members of the Brookshire's Grocery Company serving as "guardians" left Brookshire's FRESH in Tyler around 7:30 a.m. Thursday. They will return to Tyler Saturday night, October 12.
This is the seventh Heroes Flight the Brookshire's Grocery Company has sponsored since the spring of 2010.
Most of the veterans traveling on the trip have never had the opportunity to see the World War II Memorial, which opened in 2004. The Brookshire's Grocery Company began the trips to honor the service and sacrifice the veterans had shared during the war.
In addition to seeing the World War II Memorial, the veterans are expected to stop at other national landmarks, including the Vietnam, Korean, and Lincoln Memorials, and receive a personal tour of the Capitol from East Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert.
But one aspect of this year's Heroes Flight will be different: Because the government is still shut down, many Washington, D.C. Landmarks are also closed. Some of the veterans traveling on this trip expressed concern last week that the shutdown would linger into their trip, but while Gohmert acknowledged that some parts of their trip might be different, he is committed to getting these veterans access to many of the sites they plan to see, like the U.S. Capitol.
"They're saying because of the shutdown, if we're still shutdown, that they are, for security purposes, limiting a member of Congress or Senator to only taking in 10 guests. So I'm going to need other members of Congress to go through with me and I've got people committing that they will do that," Gohmert said in an Oct. 1 interview.
Trip organizers say they are hopeful the veterans will be able to keep their full itinerary despite the shutdown.
Since 2010, 195 veterans have participated in the all-expense paid trip.
Veterans participating in the trip are from many different parts of East Texas, including Tyler, Hideaway, Mineola, Flint, Mt. Vernon, Mabank, Sulphur Springs, Palestine, Ben Wheeler, Blooming Grove, Chandler, Canton, Troup, Ovilla, Lindale and Jacksonville.