CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan organization will take men and women who served our country on an Honor Flight for the first time since 2019.

A total of 77 veterans will fly out of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport to Washington D.C. Tuesday. They will visit multiple memorials, including the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Women Veterans Memorials. They will also watch the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery.

Robert Green, the president of Mid-Michigan Honor Flight, said it was tough to not have Honor Flights for two years. He said they usually do the event twice a year but had to call it off because of COVID-19 flight restrictions.

The veterans arrived at Ferris State University Monday. Green said seeing the veterans as they get ready to take off has been incredible.

“You wouldn’t believe the joy that you see on the faces of the veterans,” Green said. “One lady told me … ‘My dad (hasn’t) talked about anything since he got his phone call the last week of March.’ She said that’s all he’s been talking about is being able to go on his Honor Flight. … I said, ‘Well don’t expect that to end anytime soon because it’s probably all he’s going to talk about for the next several years.”

Green said the flights are meaningful to veterans. He said a Vietnam veteran who recently did an Honor Flight out of Ohio said he had a “wound” because of the way he was treated when he got home after Vietnam.

“He said there was … this wound that he thought would never heal,” Green said. “When he got back to Ohio, he turned to the staff of the Honor Flight and said, ‘I’m healed.’ And they said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘I’ve had this wound since I got home from Vietnam, that I thought would never heal … and it is healed.'”

The community is invited to help with the sendoff or the welcome back Tuesday at the Ford Airport. Participants are encouraged to bring signs and American flags to support the veterans.

The send-off will take place at 7 a.m. and the welcome back will take place around 8 p.m., both at baggage claim No. 4.