Grace Ridge assisted living resident, Army veteran and retired judge Sam Tate received quite the surprise just before his 96th trip around the sun: An honor trip flight to Washington, D.C.

He was one of 14 U.S. military veterans selected by Queen City Honor Flights for a May trip to the nation’s capital to visit several war memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices.

The Charlotte-based nonprofit organization’s mission is recognize the “bravery, determination and patriotism of our nation’s senior war veterans with a one-of-a-kind journey to Washington, D.C.”

Tate’s daughter and son-in-law, Martha and Norman Lyster, escorted him on the honor flight trip, which included visits to the World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and Arlington Cemetery. Tate served in the Army during World War II and was part of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. He later served for 34 years as a judge for the 25th Judicial District.

Before departing for the airport, Grace Ridge staff and fellow residents gathered to sing his praises, wish him safe travels and thank him for his service.

“Judge Tate is great example of the amazing residents here at Grace Ridge who have lived such inspiring, distinguished and community-service driven lives,” said Chris Romick, executive director. “It was an honor for us to give him a memorable send off before this once-in-a-lifetime and well-deserved experience.”

To learn more about Judge Tate’s impressive military background, check out the article and video in the Morganton News Herald: Former local judge, veteran receives honor flight to DC. And be sure to also watch WBTV’s coverage of the event, Honor flight takes NC veterans to Washington, DC.