SAN DIEGO — Honor Flights are filled with America’s heroes from World War II and the Korean War. The most recent Honor Flight San Diego had 83 veterans - each with their own remarkable story.
In December 1941, America officially entered World War II - the second deadliest war.
"The last three months of prison camp was not good,” said WWII Air Force veteran Lee Russell. “I got shot down in October and they started moving us around in April."
The Greatest Generation veteran 96-year-old Russell says in October 1944 his B-25 plane was shot down in Northern Italy on his 70th mission - his last mission before going home - and was a prisoner of war in the Stalag Luft 3 German Camp.
"I'm glad Tom Brokaw wrote that book and came up with that expression because that is how I feel about it. And I was there,” he said.
Russell joined 82 other war heroes on the Honor Flight which flies World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit their memorials.
93-year-old Seabee and WWII veteran Marv Nottingham saw the infamous second flag raised on Mt. Suribachi in 1945 and earned a bronze award for valor.
"I was on the beach and saw it go up and everyone stopped what they were doing because it was really impressive,” said Nottingham.
Japanese American Tom Honda and his family were sent to Poston, Arizona, to a Japanese-American internment camp and he was later drafted in the Army to serve in the Korean War.
"I feel very privileged to be a member of the United States and to have served in the military,” he said.
Sgt. Joe Kalla survived one of the most brutal battles in the Korea War - the Chosin Reservoir. The Marine had frostbite on his toes while fighting 120,000 Chinese forces in 60-below temperatures.
“Army Lieutenant General said the safest place in Korea is behind a platoon of marines,” said Kalla.
Honor Flight turned out to be participant Frank Manchel’s final mission.
"I think it's very important,” said Manchel. “But it's not only for us, it's for the rest of the world.”
After visiting his memorial with his brother, World War II Army veteran Manchel passed away on the flight home surrounded by his military brothers.
He will be laid to rest Thursday in Detroit, Michigan.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly named Lee Russell. We regret the error.