SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Two dozen World War II veterans from Texas and Louisiana joined Gary Sinise this week for the flight of their lives.
The actor best known for his roles on "Criminal Minds:Beyond Borders" and as Lieutenant Dan in "Forrest Gump" sent 8 veterans from Tyler, Texas, and 16 veterans from Shreveport, La., to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans on Wednesday.
"They deserve everything. They saved the world from tyranny," Sinise said Wednesday before their flight out of Shreveport Regional Airport. "That was the most horrible conflict in human history. and the amount of devastation that happened during that time in the world is unthinkable."
His foundation's Soaring Valor program joined forces with the National WWII Museum, American Airlines Envoy and Brookshire's Food and Pharmacy to send the veterans to the museum.
"This is a special, special day to take 26 WWII veterans down to New Orleans to see a world-class museum," said Brad Brookshire, CEO of Brookshire's Food.
The veterans said they are truly grateful for the opportunity to visit the museum.
"Everybody ought to give a little bit back to the community they live in," veteran Whaylande Green said. "Brookshire's and these other sponsors have always done that."
Many of the veterans are visiting the New Orleans venue this week for their first time.
"Why I'm excited? Because I will get to see all the old equipment that was used way back versus what we have today," veteran Leroy Solice said.
When he served, Solice said, soldiers would put cigarette butts in their ears to protect their hearing while in the battlefield.
The Gary Sinise Foundation creates and supports unique programs designed to entertain, educate and inspire veterans and first responders, says its website. It also provides specifically adopted smart homes for wounded veterans nationwide.
Sinise said participating in activities with veterans is something he cherishes.
"It's fun to be able to experience the WWII Museum with the men and women who served in that conflict."
The veterans received a round of applause as they boarded the Soaring Valor flight to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
Sinise's foundation was scheduled to document the veterans' first-hand accounts of the war after they arrived in New Orleans.
Veterans also can submit their written World War II memoirs or story for the museum's library. To learn how, click here.