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I really enjoyed your post NightOwl Cat and msalvetti!!
As you said, Honor Flight is a great organization!!!! I cannot say enough good about them and what they do. I have been helping them as a photographer at the events for 3 years now. I live in Spokane, WA. I suppose all of the chapters do it differently, but here, there is a group of photogs that take pics at the departure, the 2nd day back in DC and the arrival. We then put all the pics together and out head photog makes a DVD that we give to each of the vets that went on that trip. It is so great to spend time with some of the great men and women that our nation has ever known. The stories that they tell will bring tears to your eyes. They were just "the boys" doing their job. And they would do it again!!
I am way late getting my pics up, but a few of them are here, http://ront.smugmug.com/Honor-Flight-INW
Also as already said, a HUGE HAND to Southwest for all of the free tickets. I have very high respect for them!!
NightOwl Cat wrote:
I was at the Dayton airport on Saturday, 10 Nov, doing the greeting as they came off the plane. They close the airport security gate about 8 usually, so you have to get there early to get a gate pass, and the plane lands about 10:17m if not a few minutes early.
Twenty-seven vets from WWII, seven vets from Korean War on this flight. I first found out about the greet program of Honor Flight last month when the paper ran an article saying they were looking for people to come out. Many of them are active duty, they'll bring their kids out as well. First, there's the line up from the gate, and then when they get downstairs, they are convened into a group, and the military folks march out in front of them, then as they approach the reception area, they split out and form two lines, and salute the veterans in to the reception. There are also JROTC, Young Marines, from many of the local high schools, families, friends, all to welcome them home. It's an awesome feeling to participate. October, there were about 100 people, November, there were over 225 people at the gate, they lost count this time.
The vets get to the airport here about 3am, and are on the go just about all day till the return flight.
Local PBS had a story about Honor Flight a while ago with the founder.
I learned something new today. A co-worker was passing through BWI recently, when Southwest announced a flight caryying over 100 WWII vets was approaching the gate, and asking that people come and welcome them. She said dozens of people converged on the gate, American flags were handed out, clapping and cheering. Lots of active duty were present that she thinks were just passing through the airport at the time, not an organized meet.
Sounded very moving, lots of tears. She said it was particularly touching to see the reactions of the active duty personnel when a WWII vet thanked them for their service.
I Googled and learned that it was an Honor Flight. Since 2008, Southwest has been flying vets to DC for free to visit the memorials.
I never heard of this program before. Go to the links and donate, maybe even volunteer to be an escort (a Guardian).
(Make sure you only go to honorflight.org, there are a couple of other similar URLs that are for-profit).