"Staying up for 27 hours with no sleep is a challenge for an 83-year old," laughs Bob Bickhaus. "But I couldn't have asked for more."
Bickhaus is a Korean War Veteran who was chosen by Central Missouri Honor Flight to be transported to Washington, D.C. to visit his memorial at no cost.
"It's just a great deal," said Bickhaus. "You don't pay a dime. It's all volunteers and donations... It just feels great that they took the time and effort."
Central Missouri Honor flight is a non-profit organization created to solely honor America's Veterans for all their sacrifices. Since the organizations creation in 2009, they have transported more than 1,200 veterans.
The trip for Bickhaus started in Columbia at 11:30 p.m. on Monday, July 1. Veterans checked in, got breakfast and were St. Louis bound to catch their flight to Baltimore Airport.
"We were met in Washington by the Washington Park Police who escorted us all around the monuments," said Bickhaus. "Although the trip was fast, they gave us all the time we needed at the different monuments."
And when Bickhaus says fast, he means fast. Bickhaus along with the other 66 veterans were only in Washington from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, when they had to board a flight home. But just because the Veterans were back in Missouri doesn't mean the Honor Flight journey was over.
"When we got back to Columbia we were met by 385 motorcycles and about 18 off duty State Patrol officers," said Bickhaus. "There was a red, white and blue hot air balloon sitting there and a big crane with a giant flag flying. And then when we got inside the Courtyard Marriott it was packed. It was really an awesome site."
During the trip, Bickhaus got to see the World War II, Lincoln, Korea and Vietnam Memorials, Arlington National Cemetery, Changing of the Guard Ceremony, Marine Iwo Jima Memorial and Air Force Memorial.
"The Changing of the Guards was great," said Bickhaus. "That was one outstanding deal. You really couldn't ask for more. It was an honor."