Service and Sacrifice
June 24, 2016
Throughout the month, we are sharing the stories of four veterans we followed aboard HonorAir Knoxville Flight 21. It was the first flight devoted to all Vietnam veterans. A total of 149 troops made the all-expenses paid trip up and back in the same day to Washington to see the war memorials.
After sneaking in his first solo flight at 13-years-old, Joel Pressburg was leading aerial missions in the Vietnam war by age 22.
He would skirt trees in the flight deck of a U-10 Helio Courier, going so low that on one mission he found bolts from an enemy crossbow stuck in the top of his small plane. Pressburg continues to remain humble about his service, though.
"I had it a lot easier than the guys who were down on the ground," Pressburg said. "They have my undying respect."
Pressburg is one of the veterans who received a free one-day trip to Washington D.C. to see the memorials built in their honor. HonorAir Knoxville Flight 21 said it was the first ever trip devoted solely to Vietnam veterans.
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First all Vietnam Honor Air flight back from DC
KNOXVILLE - To hearty cheers and waving flags, some 150 Vietnam veterans returned Wednesday night from their all-day trip to the Nation's Capitol to see monuments erected in their honor.
Wednesday's HonorAir flight was unique in that it was exclusively for Vietnam veterans, and it is the third of 21 HonorAir flights that have included Vietnam veterans.
At least 10 Purple Heart recipients were aboard Wednesday’s flight.
It returned about 8:30 p.m. to dozens of greeters at McGhee Tyson Airport.
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Some 150 Vietnam vets flew back into Knoxville on Wednesday night. It was the first trip that featured only Vietnam-era veterans.