MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - Six dozen South Florida veterans were given a hero’s welcome home after they visited the nation’s capital through Honor Flight South Florida.

The war veterans were honored with a special flight and returned to Miami International Airport, Sunday night.

Most veterans served during the Vietnam War, but a handful served during the Korean conflict.

A 7News crew joined the travelers and spoke with several of them.

“My name is Howard Alexander. I was a Vietnam veteran,” said one of them. “I served from 1967 to 1974.”

“Brendan Doyle, First Infantry Battalion, ’67 to ’68,” said another traveler.

“Sue Aldoroty, and I served from 1964 to 1968,” said another traveler.

“Frank Korengay. I flew all over Vietnam, shot at many, many, many times. Hit only once,” said another traveler.

The veterans were flown to Washington, D.C. and given a tour of war memorials built to honor them and other military sites.

Among those who made the trip was Georgie Carter Krell. She lost her son, 19-year-old Bruce Carter, on Aug. 7, 1969, when he threw his body onto a grenade to shield his men during an ambush.

“I just remember him as a boy who just loved cars,” she said. “My gosh, if Bruce would have gray hair, what would he look like? Would we have a beard? You really don’t know. All he wanted was to be a Marine, and he was.”

The veterans who flew to D.C. would be his peers — fellow grandparents, retirees — many of them remembering someone who never left the battlefield.

“My good friend Jim Dossett, who got shot by a sniper in the neck,” said Doyle.

“The nature of the injuries, seeing them go through the pain and anguish, that was the worst,” said Robbie. “Something that traumatic never leaves you.”

A Miami-Dade Fire Department water salute sent the group off from MIA and onto the nation’s capital.

Upon arrival, they were met with more salutes, greetings and a short drive to the monuments — the places, the images that even in this time of division seem to unite.

“It makes me appreciate coming back, living in America, living this life,” said veteran Clyde Akbar. “Lots of respect for my guys in the Vietnam Memorial.”

“Washington, D.C. is always great to go to see history,” said veteran Eugene Gotay. “We saw so much today, all in one day.”

Surrounded by his sons, 96-year-old Angelo Rocco was the oldest veteran in the group. He served as a surgeon in Korea.

This was the first South Florida Honor Flight without any World War II veterans. Of the millions of Americans who served during World War II in uniform, there are fewer than 300,000 left, less than 2%.

But on Sunday, it was the names on the wall commemorating the next generation’s war that hit the hardest.

Veteran Bob Martin found the name of a fellow soldier at the Vietnam War Memorial.

“Samuel Parrish, killed in February of 1969,” he said. “I knew him as Tennessee. I knew his nickname; I didn’t know his name, and that’s haunted me for 50 years.”

A group found the name of Dale Wilkinson of Lighthouse Point, also killed in 1969.

“Wrong place, wrong time, and I just didn’t forget about him,” said a veteran. “God bless him.”

On the plane ride home, it was time for a mail call. The veterans read messages, words of thanks from family and friends that brought some of them to tears.

Back at MIA, they were greeted with cheers and applause from strangers grateful for their service from a lifetime ago.

“It was a pleasure, a blessing to serve,” said Akbar. “Would never regret it. If I had to do it over again, I’d do it the same way.”

Among those on hand to greet the veterans upon their return were law enforcement officers, other veterans and local officials, including Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

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