ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – The U.P. Honor Flight takes off on Wednesday from the Delta County Airport to bring almost 80 veterans to Washington D.C. to see the monuments in their honor.

Wednesday’s flight named ‘Mission 18’ will feature 2 veterans of the Korean War and 75 veterans of the Vietnam war. Prior to the flight, veterans gathered at the Quality Inn and Suites in Escanaba on Tuesday for a pre-flight banquet. This experience has been something a few years in the making after multiple U.P. Honor Flights were canceled due to COVID-19.

“I’m very much looking forward to this,” John Bierchen, A Vietnam Veteran on the flight said. “I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time and I’m very happy to be able to go. It has been wonderful just even starting off here with the rest of the veterans because you can talk the same talk as them.”

The U.P. Honor Flight has taken over 1,000 veterans from all counties of the Upper Peninsula to Washington D.C. and now thanks to donations and the technology of virtual reality, the U.P. Honor Flight will now be able to bring those experiences to veterans without them even having to leave the U.P.

“So we had one pair of virtual reality goggles and then there is a 12-year-old boy from the CAR program in downstate Michigan who went out and raised enough money for each of the three hubs in the state of Michigan to get seven more pairs of VR goggles,” Scott Knauf, President of U.P. Honor Flight said. “So now we have eight pairs of VR goggles and on the flight this year, our videographer is going to be filming in 360 and he’s going to create a video to load onto those goggles. So when we go into the nursing homes and do honorary Honor Flights, we’ll be able to use the VR goggles to show them a video of an honor flight and it’s going to actually be our honor flight so I’m really excited about that.”

If you’d like to thank these veterans for their service and welcome them home, come to the Delta County Airport on Wednesday night. The doors open at 7 pm and the plane is scheduled to land at 8:30 pm. People are asked to bring signs and loud cheers to give these veterans the welcome home they deserve.