CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — Dozens gathered in Charleston to show gratitude for those that served our country with a Flightless Honor Flight Ceremony.

The Flightless Honor Flight recognizes Veterans who may not be able to withstand getting on a plane and taking the full-fledged trip to Washington, D.C. The Coles County Council on Aging and Sarah Bush Lincoln partnered up to host the Veterans event for the first time.

It started out as a surprise for Edward Huels — also known as Uncle Ed.

“His daughter lined this thing up for today to honor those people, and we were tickled to death,” retired Veteran Ron Huels said. “We called everybody in our family that we could and that were able to come up here. And we all came up here to welcome him home and to thank him for his service to our country.”

There were more than twenty veterans who showed up with their families. Veterans around the community met at the LifeSpan Center to celebrate.

“So we had 25 veterans set up to come here, and they did a virtual presentation down in our theater of what takes place on an Honor Flight,” Executive Director Kim Edwards said.

They also held a small ceremony, introducing the Veterans and handing out Mail Call bags. The bags were full of letters people wrote thanking the men for their service.

Edwards said the event turned out great and had a tremendous amount of support from the community. She is already deciding what they will do for next year.