On September 13th, 2014 I was blessed to be part of a local event that honor WWll vets, while raising 30k dollars to fly 80 WWll vets and their guardians to Virgina and Washington DC. Friends of Fishhawk (a local non-profit organization in Florida) raised the 30k dollars needed to fund this trip in one night. Due to weather issues the October flight had to be delayed until April 21st, 2015. Honor Flight provides the vets this special honor during the 20 hour trip.
After anxious months of waiting 80 WWll Vets and 80 Guardians boarded a plane from St. Pete/Clearwater Airport to Baltimore Washington International Airport where the vets received a Heroes Welcome. We then boarded buses, being escorted by three motorcycles carrying large American Flags and headed for the Air Force Memorial and Arlington Cemetery in Virgina. Again boarding buses we headed to the IMO Jima memorial, Lincoln, Korean and Vietnam memorials and finally the WWll memorial. The vets received tons of well deserved praise from everyone we passed.
At 3:30pm we boarded bus once again to head back to BWI Airport for the return trip back to Florida. On the flight back to ST. Pete/Clearwater Airport the vets received large manila envelopes filled with mail from friends, families, children of all ages, dignitaries and many others aka “Mail Call” The guardians helped the vets read their mail, while the vets cried with happiness and kept asking “how did you guys get letters from my family, friends etc?” The vets were very humbled.
Back at St. Pete/Clearwater Airport there was a Heroes Welcome bigger than anything I’ve ever seen. From the moment we stepped off the plane till we got to the arrival doors of the airport (about a 2 mile distance) both sides of the walkway were lined with people waving signs, flags,and shaking the vets hands. There were children, adults, people from every organization possibly, vets, boy scouts, girl scouts, VFW posts, motorcycle groups and many others. Words can not describe the feeling the vets and guardians felt walking through the airport toward the exit doors. The vets were greeted by the General and given a challenge coin, before getting their photo taken with the “Bomber Girls”. There was probably a thousand or more people gathered to welcome home our WWll vets and guardians. What a way to end the day!
To learn more about Honor Flight, please visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Honor.Flight.WCF
Heroes Welcome Home Event:
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Copyrighted by Wendy DePalo on 5/5/2015