They came this time in a squadron of seven small planes, one after another, bringing old men to see something that belonged to them, but seemed impossibly out of reach.
Said one to Jeff Hirsh or WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, "I never thought I'd make it, really."
The passengers? A dozen World War II veterans.
The pilots: all volunteers from Ohio.
The name of the program: "Honor Flight."
The destination: the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.
Until "Honor Flight," reports Hirsh, veterans such as Leonard Loy had no chance to make it to the memorial. They were too infirm for a ten-hour car or bus ride, or couldn't afford a plane ticket.
Loy would have lived out his days unable to see America's thank you.
That is, until Earl Morse, a physician's assistant in Springfield, Ohio, asked Loy, one of his patients, whether Loy had any plans to go, whether Loy would ever see the memorial.
"And his answer was, 'No. No. No,' " Morse says.
But Morse, a former Air Force medic, said something else: "I'm renting an airplane. Wanna go?"
"I was ready for him to say, 'Yes" or 'No' or 'Let me check with my wife,' " Morse recalls. "I wasn't ready for him to start crying. …And that's when I knew we were onto something."