CHICAGO (CBS) — More than 60 Korean War veterans received a special treat Wednesday, when they joined 40 World War II veterans on a free trip to Washington, D.C.

It was the inaugural trip of Korean War era veterans on an Honor Flight Chicago trip to Washington to visit national war memorials, and Wayne Messmer sang the Star Spangled Banner to give the veterans a rousing send-off from Midway International Airport.

Over the past eight years, Honor Flight Chicago has provided free trips to Washington for nearly 6,000 World War II veterans. However, fewer of them are healthy enough to take the free one-day trip with each passing year, so Honor Flight Chicago has started taking Korean War veterans as well.

Korean War veteran Dick Saunders, 85, spent 18 months deployed with the Army near Seoul, South Korea during the war.

“It’s just nice. It’s really great to be appreciated,” he said of the trip to D.C.

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

“This is fabulous,” Saunders said. “Everybody’s thanking us for our service, but, you know what? They deserve to be thanked for doing this.”

Honor Flight Chicago said there are 53,000 World War II and Korean War veterans living in the Chicago area.

“Sadly, those generations are dying off. We’re losing them quickly. We’re excited and working hard to be able to fly every one of these Korean and World War II veterans before it’s too late,” founder Mary Pettinato said.

According to Pettinato, the average age of a World War II veteran is 91 1/2 and the average age of a Korean War veteran is 85.

Pettinato said 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.