One by one they emerged from the Jetway.
The American Airlines terminal paused to cheer them on, take pictures, shake their hands, and welcome them to the nation’s capital.
And from the airport to the buses it was time for a tour of the city and places special to them.
At the FDR Memorial, Roy Bell was moved by the president’s "I have seen war, I hate war" quote. It reminded him of his time in the Navy helping to clean up the Marshall Islands after hydrogen and atomic bomb tests. History, he worries, is lost on younger generations.
"I want to remind them you don’t know how good you have it today," says Bell. "We were poor when I went into service, it was the best thing that ever happened to me and I came out a better person."
But with the visit coinciding with Memorial Day, these veterans can’t help but remember that they are some of the lucky ones.
The magnitude of the visit was not lost on veteran Wilson Robertson. "Oh, a lot of boys, my buddies, got killed."
They are the greatest generation which is getting older and they know there are fewer of them around these days. The average age on this trip is 93.
"I’m 93 I joined at 17, look around at the 17-year-old kids," says Larry Baker. "I wasn’t wet behind the years I didn’t know how to be mad at anybody."
But their service and sacrifice have not gone on unnoticed. There are hugs and thank you’s and even a surprise at the hotel on the first night.
A group of Girl Scouts came out to show their appreciation. One more thank you, one by one.
More coverage of the trip: