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Miami Proud: Honor Flight South Florida marks 10th anniversary

Miami Proud: Honor Flight South Florida marks 10th anniversary
Miami Proud: Honor Flight South Florida marks 10th anniversary 03:09

FORT LAUDERDALE - Honor Flight South Florida is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The organization works to thank veterans for their sacrifices by bringing them to see war memorials that commemorate their service in Washington D.C.

For some, it's a trip to reflect, for others, a chance to rethink the past.

"When I came home, we were treated very, very poorly and today we're being treated fantastic," David Scharf, a Vietnam Veteran said.

It's something Scharf will never forget. CBS News Miami's Jacqueline Qyunh accompanied him and 70 other veterans on this Honor Flight from South Florida to the nation's capital.

The first trip after landing was a visit to the US Marine Corps Memorial. For a fall-time trip in the mid-Atlantic, the weather was unseasonably warm.

"Couldn't have asked for a better day," a veteran said.

From there, veterans were taken to the Military Women's Memorial next to Arlington Cemetary. Shortly after the group was brought to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a symbolic grave for all who've died in war.

Veterans then were moved to the World War II Memorial, then down the National Mall to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. It's a lot for one day, but that doesn't diminish a feeling of awe for Scharf.

"So far this has been a very emotional day for me," Scharf said to his son Brian.

Brian was able to join him on this momentous journey as part of the program, as a trained companion to help him along the way.

"They were drafting like 40,000 a month at the time, so I decided let me pick my time, so I went in and volunteered," he said.

Scharf spent his service during the Vietnam War in Germany, he was in charge of keeping track of military equipment in Europe and Africa.

"All the records, where they were, who should work on them."

He came home to protest and hostility.

"I wish they could feel what the soldiers felt like coming home, that kind of ridicule, and being totally abused for stuff we personally never did," he said.

He avoided talking about it again until an opportunity like this flight came up.

"It's so touching because there are people that I know, I don't want to even go over there," he said of the Vietnam Wall.

For Retired Army Major General Bernard Loeffke, this was an opportunity to remember the many brave men and women he served with.

"I've lost 34 soldiers killed, 221 wounded, and that weighs heavily on me, these are all sons and daughters, fathers and mothers so I live with that," Loeffke shared.

The trip ended with a celebratory homecoming for all the veterans, from War War II through the Vietnam War.

"This is their welcome home, and I think they really appreciate how much Americans really, really do love them," Tom Christensen, Honor Flight South Florida said.

The group knows many veterans served and then quietly went back to work, that's why they continue to make it their mission to let veterans know their commitment to serve the country will never be forgotten.

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