In a baggage claim area filled with loved ones wearing red, white and blue, 40 veterans of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War were welcomed home to Kansas as they landed in Wichita on Kansas Honor Flight 55.
They were welcomed home by saluting active-duty military and veterans as family, friends and children in the airport shouted “U.S.A” as they waved their American flags.
“This was amazing,” Sandra Keck of Andover said. She served in the Vietnam War and was welcomed home by Jan Storey, her best friend of 34 years. “It brought tears to my eyes.”
For many of the veterans, this was their first official “welcome home,” as they had never received one when they returned from active duty.
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“For our four World War II veterans, gentleman, you are known as the greatest generation. Thank you and welcome home,” David Blanding, a volunteer with the Kansas Honor Flight organization, announced.
“To our 11 Korea veterans, you guys are known as the forgotten. We are all here to let you know you are not forgotten, we are proud of your service and welcome home.
“To my 25 Vietnam brothers, when you came home you never got a ‘Welcome Home,’” Blanding continued. “This here is your ‘Welcome Home’ you never received. We are proud of you.”
The mission of the honor flight was to send Kansas’ veterans to Washington to visit memorials at no cost to the veterans.
During the two-day mission in Washington D.C., the veterans toured memorials including the World War II Memorial, Korean Veterans Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, Navy Memorial, Air Force Memorial and Vietnam Memorial.
The veterans also toured the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Fort McHenry and the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Kansas Honor Flight has sent 1,703 Kansas veterans to Washington D.C. at no cost thanks to sponsors and donors. This was the last Kansas Honor Flight of 2017.
For more information on Kansas Honor Flights, visit www.kansashonorflight.org.