PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- About 50 World War II veterans arrived from Washington, D.C., back in Portland Sunday -- making news for visiting the District of Columbia's World War II Memorial despite the federal government shutdown.
The World War II Memorial is one of many national monuments that have been on restricted access since the Monday night shutdown of the U.S. government as Congress debates a budget deal.
Even without the shutdown, for many veterans on the trip it was the trip of a lifetime. And on Sunday, upon their return to Oregon soil, it was a hero's welcome home at Portland International Airport.
About 50 World War II veterans were greeted on their return to Portland from their trip to the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. The applause and the welcome-home greetings stretched through a good portion of the airport terminal.
"These veterans, they helped build the world and the nation we live in today," said Sgt. Armando Borboa with the Oregon National Guard. "They didn't care about the politics, they didn't care about any other factors. Their nation called and they came to serve."
Most of the returning veterans are in their 90s now.
Thanks to a bipartisan group of lawmakers, who were able to agree on making arrangements for a visit to the closed World War II Memorial, the Oregon honor flight was not in vain. They saw their memorial.
And for people like Bill Albright, who joined the Navy in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, it was a trip that had special meaning.
"I had a chance to locate a very good friend of mine's name," said Albright, now retired from the Navy. "I stood back and gave him a salute -- and it was a good feeling."
Both the trip to the memorial and the return to the airport have reminded these men -- soldiers from what's known as "the greatest generation" -- of the monumental contributions they've made in their lives. And while they may be advanced in years, their accomplishments are not forgotten.
"When we came home from the war 70 years ago it was just 'Get on a train and go home,'" said Bill Sarnoff, retired Navy, as he met the crowd at the Portland International Airport Sunday. "This as a multiple, multiple faceted parade. So thank you to who ever put this together -- it's been a ball."
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