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Meet the 96-year-old WWII veteran set to visit D.C. on an Honor Flight

Albert Van Tieghem was only 17 years old when he joined the U.S. Navy. Now he has a chance to visit our nation's prized monuments.

BETTENDORF, Iowa — Before the 58th Quad Cities Honor Flight takes off, the community celebrated with the traveling veterans at a special dinner.

The community welcomed the heroes in front of the Waterfront Convention Center, with Davenport Central High School's band performing patriotic tunes.

The dinner was put on specifically for this Hy-Vee Honor Flight, the 13th the grocery company has sponsored. Veterans, their families, guardians, and Hy-Vee employees were invited to the dinner.

Around 80 veterans will be on the flight, including 96-year-old Albert Van Tieghem. He was only 17 years old when he joined the U.S. Navy, serving in World War II and the Korean War.

"We were getting ready to go overseas when Truman dropped the bomb," Tieghem said.  "They sent me to Hawaii, and I was there for 16 months."

Tieghem stayed enlisted, and ended up serving in the Korean War as well. "I get called back in 5 days before my enlistment's up, to go back into the Korean War," he said. "That's when my daughter was born."

Tieghem has passed through D.C. before, but he's ready to see the capital in a new way. "I want to go back and refresh those feelings, but with a different attitude. I want to go see the monuments, to why we have them," he said.

The world he fought for has changed so much. "I'm sad," Tieghem said. "I want to be able to go out at night and not worry about attacks."

However, Tieghem said he's proud to have served and believes in a bright future for the nation, even if it's one he won't live to see. "I'm hoping my daughter and her family, and all the other families will see a world that we can love and be a part of," he said.

The Honor Flight will depart on Sept. 19 from the Quad Cities International Airport. News 8 will be on the flight, providing updates throughout the day on our website and social media.

Watch more news, weather and sports on News 8's YouTube channel

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