The Freedom Honor Flight in La Crosse took its 21st trip to Washington D.C. on Saturday.
Veterans from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War visited the memorials built to honor their sacrifices; however, what makes the trip extra special for some is who they share it with.
These three men have a lot in common. They share genes, a last name, even a sense of humor. They also have a sense of patriotism, choosing to answer the call of duty.
"I had to go for sure, because I had four brothers in World War II," said Richard Richardson, a Korean War veteran. "I wasn’t old enough then, but as soon as I was old enough I went in."
Lyle Richardson left high school to serve in World War II. His youngest brother, Richard, enlisting in the Korean War just years later. The desire to serve our country extended to the next generation as Lyle’s son, Michael, served as a hospital corpsman in the Vietnam War.
Just as they share individual experiences in war, they wanted to share one more experience: the Freedom Honor Flight. This time, though, they wanted to be together.
"It means a lot because we haven’t had the chance to do anything together as far as servicemen," said Lyle Richardson. "One or two of us was always gone. It feels good."
Together they found names of loved ones lost in war. They shook hands of strangers who thanked them for their service.
"The airport was an unexpected experience for us," said Michael Richardson. "Yeah, the welcoming, the band."
"There must have been a thousand people there welcoming us," said Richard Richardson.
The Freedom Honor Flight gave them a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make memories they will never forget, strengthening their bond as family not only by blood but in service.