MADISON (WKOW)-- The shutdown couldn't have ended at a better time for local veterans. Three honor flights in Wisconsin are set to take off this week, including one in Madison.
Organizers of Badger Honor Flight were expecting to miss a few memorials during their trip this Saturday, but now it's going on as planned.
"We were going to go one way or another," Badger Flight Vice President Steve Bartlett says.
With more than $75,000 for a plane, not to mention four buses and hundreds of hats and t-shirts already bought and paid for, there was no way Badger Honor Flight was canceling the trip to Washington D.C.
"This was added anxiety that they did not need and we're fortunate that it's all behind us now," Bartlett says.
The group had set up a contingency plan because many of the memorials had restricted access. Veterans protested in Washington when Honor Flight groups were kept out of memorials during the beginning of the shutdown. The National Park Service started allowing groups to go beyond the barricades, but there was still the concern about parking.
Veterans coming off the bus had to walk long distances to get to the memorials. Organizers were forced to cut certain sites out of their trip. With the shutdown over it's no longer an issue.
"It was like the candles on the cake. I mean the cake was baked and iced and we were ready to go but now we're really lit up and ready to travel," Bartlett says.
Thursday afternoon the group got even more good news. The National Park Service was willing to give the veterans their traditional police escort during the trip.
"Their escort saves us about an hour. Not having it would probably mean we would have to drop one of our stops," Bartlett says.
Organizers sent out the good news on Facebook to let the vets and their chaperones know that the trip was going on as planned. The vets no longer have to worry about missing any of the historic sights they've been waiting a lifetime to see.
"This is going to be as good of an honor flight as we've ever had," Bartlett says. "It's just going to be a super day."
An honor flight group in the Appleton area had a flight to Washington Thursday morning. The group had full access to the memorials. This weekend nine other groups of veterans from across the country will also make the trip.
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