Saturday, May 4, 2019, for the first time I witnessed the return home of an Honor Flight. The Collier-Lee Honor Flight (Mission 19) arrived first followed by the Southwest Florida Honor Flight at Southwest Florida International Airport.
It was the most beautifully, patriotic event I have ever seen. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people came out to thank and support these veterans who served in all branches of the military in either WWII, Korea, and/or Vietnam.
People waved flags, held up signs, handed out gifts and cards all in the name of gratitude to these veterans who selflessly served this country. We clapped and cheered as the parade of veterans made their way through the airport terminal. There was a lot of handshaking and thanking them for their service. And of course, there were tears of patriotic pride while observing this beautiful, happy occasion.
What is an Honor Flight?
If you’re not familiar with an Honor Flight, the non-profit organization transports veterans to Washington, D.C., so they may visit their respective memorials (WW II, Korean, and Vietnam). The trip provides both honor and closure for many participants.
Honor Flight Hubs are always seeking volunteers and guardians. A friend volunteered as a Guardian on a recent flight and did so after witnessing a Welcome Home. I attended the May 4 Welcome Home ceremony with her and her family. A Guardian accompanies the veteran to ensure they have a memorable and safe experience during the journey. This includes physically assisting the veteran at the airport, during the flight, and while in D.C. While the veteran does not pay anything, especially since they gave to their country, guardians make a donation to cover expenses (from what I can find, that donation is $450).
Know a WWII, Korean War, or Vietnam War veteran who should participate in an Honor Flight? Find an Honor Flight Hub here to get them enrolled. There is no fee for participating veterans. They have already paid.
In Southwest Florida, learn about the Collier-Lee Honor Flight at www.collierhonorflight.org and Southwest Florida Honor Flight (includes Charlotte and Sarasota Counties) at www.pchonorflight.org.
Video: Honor Flight Welcome Home to Southwest Florida International Airport, May 4, 2019
If the video doesn’t play, visit this link.
Thank you to all who are and who have served.