TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – The Cherokee Nation’s eighth Cherokee Warrior Flight departed for Washington D.C. on Thursday.

According to the Cherokee Nation, the Warrior Flights are funded by the Tribe to fly Cherokee veterans to see national war memorials at the nation’s capital.

“Though we will never be able to truly thank them enough or repay them for their sacrifices, providing this opportunity is just one small way to thank them,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “I’m always proud to say that Cherokees serve in the U.S. military at greater per-capita rates than any other ethnicities. These men and women going to Washington, D.C. served their country and their Cherokee Nation admirably.”

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. greets Army Veteran Clifford Lee Bark during Wednesday night’s send-off banquet for the Cherokee Warrior Flight at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Image courtesy Cherokee Nation.

A dinner was held on Wednesday to give the warriors flight vests and caps and wish them safe travels, officials say.

Left to right (back row): Army Veteran Jamie Cochran, Army Veteran Terry Joe Thompson, Army Veteran James Franklin Hail, Marine Veteran Phillip G. Daughtery, Marine Veteran Deroin Peak Jr., Marine Veteran Anthony Allon King, Army Veteran Clifford Lee Bark, Navy Veteran Jeffery Scott Conseen and Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. Left to right (front row): Director of Cherokee Nation Veterans Center Barbara Foreman, Air Force Veteran Mary Ann Gregory, Army Veteran Gary Dan Davis and Secretary of Veteran Affairs S. Joe Crittenden. Image courtesy Cherokee Nation.

“It’s an amazing sight to see these men and women who have proudly served our country get to enjoy such an unforgettable trip,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “These veterans are a blessing to the Cherokee Nation and I’m just grateful they get to experience this.”

The Cherokee Nation says James Hail, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Mary Ann Gregory, of Hulbert, were in attendance in preparation for their trip.

Hail served in the Army during the Vietnam War.

“It’s very touching to be honored in this way,” Hail said. “I have served my country for two years in the Vietnam War, I am just pleased to be honored and recognized for that.”

Gregory served in the Air Force during peacetime.

“What I am looking forward to most on this trip is seeing some of the monuments and the cherry blossom trees,” Gregory said. “I am so grateful to be going, this is such a great opportunity for so many of us.”

Officials say the Cherokee Nation veterans flew from Tulsa International Airport Thursday and arrived in Washington D.C. just a little while later. The three-day trip consists of tours of the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veteran’s Memorial, Vietnam Wall Memorial and various other sites.

“This annual trip is such a blessing to so many of our Cherokee warriors, many of whom have said to us in the past that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to experience,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs S. Joe Crittenden, a U.S. Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, said. “For me, it’s such an honor to get to experience this trip with fellow veterans.”

The Tribe says the veterans will return on Saturday, April 1.