Student send-off for NJ veterans heading to Washington, DC for the day

WILLIAMSTOWN, N.J. (WPVI) -- Five busloads of veterans from across New Jersey left Williamstown High School Wednesday morning for a daylong trip to Washington, DC.

The trip is organized by The Honor Flight of Southern New Jersey.

Students and teachers lined the hallways and gathered in front of the school to see them off.

The veterans served in different wars and in different branches of the military.

Vietnam veteran Tom Kraszwski explained how emotional it was to see the students' appreciation.

"I was tearing up seeing so many kids that really love us. It's a great thing. It's an honor," he said.

Junior Bailey Hershman, a member of the Junior ROTC, described how important this experience is for students, too.

"I think that we learn so much from these veterans, and we get their firsthand experience," said Hershman.

While in Washington, the veterans will visit memorials, remember those lost and reflect on their own service.

"I've been looking forward to one of these trips for years," said Vietnam veteran Ed Siemietkowsi. "I'll take it all in. Every minute of it. I'll take it all in."

Two of these type of trips take place each year. They are financed by donations.

Each time, this school community wants to make certain the veterans know how much they are valued.

Kraszwski said, "Glad that they're doing this today. They found a way to honor us, and we all appreciate it so much."

Acting Principal Caroline Yoder explained, "It's emotional watching the reactions of the kids. It's even more emotional watching the reactions of the veterans. I think they're touched. Some of them even told me when they arrived from their tour of duty they weren't even greeted like this. So we're hoping in some way to honor all the service they have done."

There will also be crowds at the school to welcome them home Wednesday evening.
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