The Times West Virginian

April 13, 2014

Public asked to greet Honor Flight veterans upon their return

92 participating in May 10 trip to nation’s capitol

By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — With less than a month before the May 10 Clarksburg Honor Flight, organizers are looking for the public to greet veterans when they arrive home that night.

Aaron Hawkins, an organizer of the flight, said when the flight returns to the North Central West Virginia Airport in Bridgeport, anyone is welcome to greet those who have served the country when they step off the plane.

Hawkins is asking that people line the tarmac of the airport and honor the 92 veterans who will be participating in the flight.

The flight will take off at 7:30 a.m. and land in Washington, D.C., at 8:30 a.m. Throughout the day, the veterans will be escorted by guardians and volunteers who will take care of the participants, and taken to the memorials.

The return flight is scheduled to land in Bridgeport at 8:30 p.m. Hawkins said people interested in attending may start showing up at 7:30 p.m. at the airport.

Hawkins, who has attended an Honor Flight as a guardian, said when the plane lands after an emotional day, the participants will feel a great joy of having people greet them when they step off the plane.

“It’s an important part of the Honor Flight program that we give them a proper welcome home that they didn’t get many years ago,” he said. “The more people we have, the more moving it is.”

Hawkins said there is no limit to the amount of people that can show up.

“When you have a crowd that is cheering them on, there’s a sense of pride that comes out in the veterans,” he said. “Most of them, when they know that people are out there, they’ll make every effort to get down those steps.”

Successful fundraising has made the flight possible. The 92 veterans going on the flight are going at no cost to them. Hawkins said this is the first Honor Flight in this area.

The veterans participating served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. World War II and Korean War veterans were given first priority because they are the oldest of all veterans.

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.