FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Two local veterans arrived home this weekend from a trip to Washington, D.C. to visit memorials there, thanks to the Last Frontier Honor Flight.
The Honor Flight network is a non-profit organization dedicated to honor and thank veterans, especially World War II veterans, by bringing them to Washington, D.C., for a trip of honor at no cost to the veteran.
In Alaska, the Last Frontier Honor Flight provides two opportunities for veterans to visit the nation's capital.
When it comes to cost, Alaska Airlines provides tickets for the veterans and hotel, food and other expenses are covered by donations.
Board member for the Alaska hub of the Honor Flight Network, Julie Jones urges veterans to consider applying for an Honor Flight.
"We are honored and we are humbled by the attitude of our veterans that serve our nation and have kept us safe and has brought us our freedom," Jones said. "And so this is our chance to thank them for their service and we hope that anyone, everyone, all of our veterans will apply for this program. And even if it takes a while, we do want to honor you, so please apply - and also apply to be a guardian and support this program. It can be a cathartic experience for those who have experienced times of war."
At first, Air Force veteran Urban Eugene Rahoi didn't have an interest in participating with his local Honor Flight but one of the network guardians convinced the 98-year-old to apply.
"It was kind of unique because I didn't really want to go because, I have reason for it," Rahoi said. "I was a pilot, flying high up in the mountains, air flying and I always felt that the people on the ground, fought on the ground should get it. I enjoyed all of it actually. I don't regret going."
For Air Force veteran Walter Gelinas, it was a friend who told him what a wonderful experience the Honor Flight had been.
"There were so many favorite parts, I couldn't pick any one," Gelinas said. "And we visited I think every memorial that they have in D.C. From World War 1, 2, all the way up and the Lincoln Memorial and it was a whirlwind tour but it was fabulous and the people are wonderful."
Gelinas was also presented with a quilt of valor for his service.
Any veteran can apply for an honor flight, with priority given to World War II, Alaska Territorial Guard and Korean War Veterans, as well as terminally ill veterans from all wars.