Public invited to honor veterans

For Miami Valley Today

DAYTON — Honor Flight Dayton is extremely pleased to announce that, thanks to the generosity of patriotic sponsors, approximately 110 Korean and Vietnam veterans will be able to see the memorials built in their honor. The public is invited to be a part of this patriotic event and experience it firsthand. Come to the Dayton International Airport by 8 p.m. Saturday. The Honor Flight Dayton charter is scheduled to return at 9 p.m. Be there to welcome and cheer for the brave men and women who fought for our freedom.

“The Dayton International Airport is proud to be the host airport and work with Honor Flight Dayton in this great opportunity to honor our veterans,” said Terrence G. Slaybaugh, Director of Aviation for the City of Dayton.

On the morning of the trip, the veterans arrive at 3:45 a.m. in preparation for a 6:30 a.m. departure. The Dayton International Airport supplies complementary water, beverages, fruits and pastries in the gate area to all 187 passengers, which includes the veterans and guardians along with the Honor Flight Dayton staff.

After arriving at Reagan Airport, the veterans will board four blush buses and have a police escort all day as they tour the World War II Memorial, Korean Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, USMC War Memorial, USAF Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, the Changing of the Guard at the Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers and other sites. It is an exciting day for them and this free, once-in-a-lifetime tour is a “thank you” for the service they rendered and the freedoms they secured for all of us, when they served in the U.S. military so many decades ago.

Upon arrival back at the Dayton Airport, the veterans may think their day is over. Not so. As they deplane, a military guard of about 200 USAF personnel welcome the veterans and form a symbolic honor march to accompany the veterans from the arrival gate to the honor corridor for their final special welcome. The honor corridor is lined by the color guards of the United States Air Force, Air Force Junior ROTC and the Miami Valley Young Marines. The entire corridor is lined by additional military groups, Vietnam Veterans of America, Boy Scouts of America, Patriot Pin-Up Girls, Knights of Columbus, members of Police and Fire departments and of course, a large multitude of the veterans’ loved ones.

The public is invited to join the cheers of the waiting families, friends and grateful citizens. See the smiles and tears of the veterans as they pass through the honor corridor under the colorful U.S. and Military Service Flags. Join in the singing of the National Anthem and the enthusiastic cheering. All of these assure a memorable event for the returning veterans and those who honor them. For many veterans it is the welcome home they never received and a small tribute for those who gave so much.

Honor Flight Dayton is inviting all who wish to attend this event. Please come to welcome home the returning veterans. Patriotic attire and signs are encouraged. Present and former military and public safety personnel are encouraged to come in uniform. It’s free (including parking) and no reservations needed. Just show up, stand up, and cheer from the heart.