River Region Honor Flight vets land to emotional welcome home

Fourth trip tugs at heartstrings

Posted by on Apr 18th, 2010 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Honor Flight veteran receives warm hug after his trip - Photo by Marc Parker

Honor Flight veteran receives warm hug after his trip - Photo by Marc Parker

Montgomery, AL – Emotions ran high Saturday night as the Honor Flight veterans returned home from a day trip in Washington, D.C.

This was the fourth River Region Honor Flight journey and the vets once again returned to a heroes welcome at Montgomery Regional Airport.

The Prattville Pops orchestra provided pre-landing entertainment and continuously played the official anthems of the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.

Hundreds of military personnel, friends, and family, amidst a sea of American flags, cheered and embraced the members of “The Greatest Generation,” as they entered the terminal.

Children surveying the tarmac at Montgomery Regional Airport awaiting Honor Flight's return - Photo by Marc Parker

Children surveying the tarmac at Montgomery Regional Airport awaiting Honor Flight's return - Photo by Marc Parker

Even amidst the loud music and applause, both the veterans and their guardians tearfully recalled their visit to the WW II Memorial and Arlington Cemetery.

For Vermont native Francis Beaulieu who moved to Montgomery after the war, the most memorable part of the trip was visiting the cemetery dedicated to honoring the nation’s heroes.

“You just can’t imagine it until you’re there … so very touching,” the Navy veteran said, choking back tears. “But, the entire trip was just great and I enjoyed it tremendously.”

Prattville Mayor Jim Byard Jr., Honor Flight Chairman, traveled to the nation’s capital with Mack Lee, a Prattville resident.

Crowd greeting the Honor Flight veterans - Photo by Marc Parker

Crowd greeting the Honor Flight veterans - Photo by Marc Parker

“It was a long day, but a good one,” said Byard. “Mr. Lee is probably very tired, but we had a lot of fun. We went to the Lincoln Memorial and the Changing of the Guard at Arlington also.”

Dill Averett from Montgomery went with Kellie Cook, City of Prattville Special Events Coordinator.

“His middle name is ‘Dillard’ so they call him Dill,” Cook said. “He was in the Army in World War II and in the Air Force in Korea.”

“We both got a little teary eyed when the plane pulled up and we saw all of those guys in uniform saluting us,” she stated, while attempting to contain her emotions.

Article by Melissa Parker

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