CHICAGO (CBS) — A group that has been taking World War II veterans on free trips to D.C. for the past eight years has begun taking Korean War veterans as well.

Honor Flight Chicago co-founder Mary Pettinato said they have taken nearly 6,000 World War II veterans to D.C. over the past eight years.

Veterans are treated to a flight to D.C., and chartered luxury buses to visit the National World War II Memorial, and – when time allows – they get to see other sites in Washington; including the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Air and Space Museum, and the Marine Corps War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Pettinato said the average age of WWII veterans is 91, and fewer of them are healthy enough to make the free one-day trip with each passing year.

“Last year, we struggled to get enough World War II veterans on every flight,” she said.

That’s why the group has started taking Korean War veterans on the free one-day trips to D.C. as well.

Since 2008, Honor Flight Chicago has taken nearly 6,000 World War II veterans to the nation’s capital. More than 1,200 Korean War veterans have signed up for future trips.

Pettinato recalled the story of one previous trip, when a veteran of both wars was at the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall.

“A family comes up, and the mother taps him on the shoulder. It’s a Korean family, a South Korean family, and they bow at the waist, and they stand back up, and the mother says ‘Thank you for saving our country,’” Pettinato said.

The next Honor Flight will be in April, and will include 35 World War II vets, and 60 Korean War veterans.

“Korean War veterans are now applying in groups, and they’re buddies,” Pettinato said. “I think we received 35 applications yesterday.”

She said the priority continues to be taking WWII veterans to D.C.

“As long as there’s a World War II veteran out there that’s ready, willing, and able to travel with us, we’re excited to have him or her,” she said. Honor flight even plans to make accommodations for veterans who need wheelchairs or oxygen tanks.

The group also plans to eventually start taking Vietnam War veterans to D.C., once all WWII and Korean War veterans who are interested have had their chance.