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100 vets gather at Williamstown High School for Honor Flight

Veterans heading to Washington for "Honor Flight," trip to war memorials
Veterans heading to Washington for "Honor Flight," trip to war memorials 03:34

WILLIAMSTOWN, N.J. (CBS) -- From the hallways to the lockers, Williamstown High School is decked out in red, white and blue.

About 100 veterans from around the Garden State headed to the school Thursday for breakfast before boarding a plane for their Honor Flight.

Honor Flight Network, a volunteer organization, gives veterans from around the state an opportunity to see the war memorials in Washington D.C.   

The veterans say Thursday was a special day, as a Black Hawk helicopter circled around the school and landed in a field. Students were able to check out the helicopter.

"It was a phenomenal experience," teacher and Honor Flight board member Gretchen Czbas said. "I've actually already been receiving message from the vets on the trip that they were driven to tears, moved beyond what they could have imagine. And while I had a picture in my head, it was 1,000 times better than I thought this was going to turn out, for both the kids and the vets."

"The kids of Williamstown High School respect the veterans of this country," Czbas said.

South Jersey Honor Flight is the only one that happens in New Jersey, and one of the few that works with a school.

Veteran John Wise said he will be looking for a cousin of his.

"We're going to look for that and just enjoy each other," he said.

"I think it's extremely important to remember a lot of the servicemen," added U.S. Marine Corps veteran Bill Dame. "There's a lot of guys who get forgotten about."

Students at the Gloucester County school were busy getting ready ahead of their big day and decorating every inch of their building Wednesday.

"We've been running around preparing water, food, cleaning coolers for the vets," student Connor Reeve said. 

Williamstown High School Spring Honor Flight 02:20

"These kids who they say, it's a hard generation – all they care about is their phone and social media," Melissa Wegmann, a special needs and history teacher at Williamstown High School, said. "We're looking right now and these kids aren't on their phones."

Sophomore Antonio Everett is in the school's ROTC program.

One day he hopes to join the Marines.

For now, giving back is the least, he says, he can do.

"Honor Flight is the one thing in the year I'm really proud of, like this is the one thing I wait for," Everett said. "And I love it."


The veterans arrived at Williamstown High School Thursday at 6 a.m. for breakfast.

Then as the 1,800 students come in for school, they'll line the hallways to send off the veterans.

Before boarding the bus bound for D.C. Thursday morning, a Blackhawk helicopter will land at the high school. Then when the veterans and guardians return to Williamstown that night – they'll be greeted with a community block party.

"They're not used to this younger generation paying attention to them and being able to not only talk and shake hands but watch the kids cheer and sometimes cry," Gretchen Czbas, a Williamstown High School teacher, said. 

Honor Flight is personal for the students and staff.

As the hours wind down to the Spring Honor Flight trip – the message to New Jersey veterans is clear: We thank you, we love you and welcome to Williamstown High School.

"I don't feel what they feel, but I understand," Everett said.

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