Thaddeus “Ted” Hillbruner never saw any combat during the Korean War. That’s why he was even more surprised by the hero’s treatment he received on May 10 as part of Honor Flight Chicago’s 77th flight to Washington, D.C.

“I never thought that we (veterans) not in actual combat would ever be so rewarded,” he said.

It took “continuous” encouragement from Hillbruner’s daughter and veteran friends to get him to participate in the day of honor, but once the day started, he knew he made the right decision.

“Every single person was first class,” he said. “You’ll never witness anything like it in (terms of) honor and grace.

“My guide, a retired Lieutenant Colonel, was a remarkable historian. He even sent me an album afterward with over 50 photos!”

An especially moving part of the Honor Flight Chicago experience is the Welcome Home Celebration, and that was true for Hillbruner and his fellow travelers. “Many of us shed tears after getting such an unbelievable welcome.”