More veterans from our area will get a chance tomorrow to see the monuments built in their honor.
The 24-th freedom honor flight' leaves from the la crosse regional airport tomorrow morning.
Crews were busy at colgan air hangar four today setting up for the send off ... and return ceremonies.
95 veterans from world war two ... the korean war ... and vietnam war-era are scheduled to be on the flight.
And that includes a band of brothers from the la crosse area.
Al, jim and rich erickson are all vietnam war-era veterans.
News 8's mal meyer joins us now with a look at how they hope the experience will bring them together.
Four erikson brothers had originally signed up together to go on the flight, but sadly their brother ed passed on before that could happen.
Rich says the group never talked much about their experience in the service, but hopes this will help them come together.
Rich erickson comes from a pretty big family.
"this is jim."
His mom catherine and dad james along with their eight kids.
They're very tight knit.
"when i was growing up, we did everything as a family.
Mom and dad and all of us kids.
We did everything together."
After high school, he was looking for a better job, so rich decided to enlist.
"maybe i'll just join the army and see the world.
And that i did."
In their late teens and early twenties, his brothers jim, al and ed were also making that decision.
"jim who is going with tomorrow was on a battleship off the coast."
Al was a cook but never really cooked.
"he doesn't think they liked his cooking so they had him driving a messhall food truck."
His brother ed served in the u.s. navy with the seabees, building camps for marines.
"he had a pretty tough time over there."
Ed was exposed to agent orange and eventually developed copd.
They had all applied together for freedom honor flight, which had offered them the opprotunity to get moved up on the list becuase of his illness, but they declined.
"ed was the kind of guy, he said, i don't want to bump anybody else off."
The four veterans had never really talked about about what they had seen during the war.
It wasn't until ed's death in late 2016, that they had learned what he went through.
"we're pretty sad about him not going with us."
Saturday would have been his birthday.
While they won't have ed there to tour the different stops, rich says he is excited to see the vietnam war memorial to pay his respects.
"i have a lot of friends who are on there."
And wants to see the world war ii, korean war, and lincoln memorials, along with arlington national cemetary.
"that's something that people only see on tv."
It's an unforgetabl e sight that he'll get to see with his brothers by his side.
"i wouldn't want to go out there by myself if i had a choice of going there with my brothers.
We're a really close knit family."
Freedom honor flight has been taking veterans from la crosse to washington d-c for more than 11 years.
Since then, nearly 3,000 area veterans have taken the flight.
The public is invited to participate in two special ceremonies for the flight tomorrow.
Doors open for the send-off ceremony at 6 tomorrow morning ... and the flight is expected to arrive back in la crosse