When photographer, videographer, and TikTok user Kara Lewis hopped off the plane at LAX, she was a little confused to see people walking around with flags and posters. But after doing a little investigating, she learned that she would soon be in the presence of greatness as a flight containing nearly 40 veterans was about to land, and these veterans just had the trip of a lifetime.
Thankfully, she had her camera on the whole time and was able to capture some beautiful moments of veterans of World War II, Vietnam, and Korea reuniting with their friends and families after returning from their well-deserved Honor Flight.
A photographer just happened to be the airport as an Honor Flight landed, and her video perfectly captures what a joyous experience it is.
After landing at LAX, Kara noticed there was a large crowd gathered holding American flags. Given her work in photography and video, she knew she had to find out what was going on. That said, she took to TikTok to document the scene and began speaking with those nearby.
One woman, who was holding red and blue star-shaped balloons, a flag, and a poster, informed Kara that she was there waiting for her adopted grandfather, a veteran, to return home from a special trip.
"He got to go to Washington, D.C., and see all the memorials and be honored for his service," the woman shared, adding, “We’re really making a big deal out of it 'cause we’re just really excited to hear all about it."
This woman also told Kara that besides her grandfather, there were 36 other vets on the plane arriving home.
Kara then spoke with another man, who told her that the plane everyone was waiting on contained World War II veterans as well as vets who fought in Korea and Vietnam. He also confirmed that they were returning from an all-expenses-paid trip to D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to fallen soldiers.
After much anticipation, the plane finally landed and the scene got emotional as the veterans walked through the gates and began embracing their families.
As users noted in the comments of Kara's video, the trip these veterans were returning from was called an Honor Flight, put on for them by the namesake organization.
For context, Honor Flight is "a national organization that transports American Veterans to Washington, D.C., to honor and celebrate them for their service and sacrifices," per its website. Often touted as the highest honor a veteran can receive, these trips hold immense significance for both the heroes and their families.
"My 96-year-old father, a WWII Navy vet, took the Honor Flight a few years ago. It was wonderful. There are so few left, and they so deserve it," commented one user under Kara's video.
"I’m in tears! Veterans don’t nearly get enough of what they deserve. This is beautiful," wrote another.
Some users even shared that they'd gotten the opportunity to be a part of one of these special trips. "I participated to help my father be honored. I’m a nurse and was his caretaker for the trip. Words cannot describe this experience," wrote a third.
But unfortunately, not all deserving veterans get to experience the Honor Flight. "My grandpa missed the honor flight by two months. He passed away. It was the final item on his bucket list," read one comment.
Kara also posted a follow-up video that featured even more special moments filmed at LAX as the Honor Flight returned.
Her video served as a touching reminder of how important veterans are and how we must continue to celebrate the ones who are still here with us.