Bittersweet Honor Flight for vet who lost twin

Vet finds way to bring late brother along for the Honor Flight

Washington - The Honor Flight of the Quad Cities was bittersweet for a veteran who lost his twin brother just weeks ago.

"God decided, to take him," said Air Force Veteran Robert Atherton.

Atherton lost his twin, Richard.

Richard was also a vet and was supposed to come along for the Honor Flight.

Robert says they share a lot of memories in the service. 

"We were in different outfits, but we were still located in France. So, it was a pretty good thing. We did a lot of times together. We even bought a car together while we were over there," said Atherton.

He carried something along with him, so his brother could still make the trip.

"I've got his picture here, so he's with us," said Atherton. 

This trip is really, much more than seeing the sites. These veterans have gotten emotional and gone down memory lane thinking about the sacrifices, and some of the buddies that they've lost along the way.

"A lot of them really suffered," said Vietnam Veteran Dave Mockridge.

Mockridge says he felt like an outcast when he came home.

"I went and sat down in a seat, the one seat that I could find that was empty, and there was a lady on each side of me, and they both got up and moved because they didn't want to sit next to me," said Mockridge.

Mockridge says in recent years, the treatment of Vietnam War veterans has completely changed.

"I would wear my hat when my wife and I go shopping for groceries, and I'd have to not wear my hat anymore because people kept stopping me and thanking me for serving, and it's just fantastic," said Mockridge.

This is the 39th Honor Flight of the Quad Cities in about nine years.

The hub director says he's gone many times, but it's always special for everyone involved.

"Every time is wonderful, meeting new people, grabbing their hands, seeing them smile, every time is fantastic. It's an emotional high for me and everybody, and every guardian and every worker who works for it," said Honor Flight Hub Director Steve Harrington.

Allowing family, friends and the community to give these heroes, the welcome home they deserve.

The Honor Flights of the Quad Cities started back in 2008.

It was originally for World War II veterans.

The program has since expanded.

This is the first year that no World War II vets were on the flight.


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