80 CNY veterans join free Honor Flight to D.C. to see memorials

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - Eighty veterans boarded a free flight in Syracuse Saturday morning, bound for the nation's capital.

Before their return, the men and women who served during World War II and the Korean War would finally tour the memorials built in their honor.

It's a mission that some may have never completed on their own, considering the cost and care it takes to transport veterans who are reaching their 90's. The senior member of the flight is 98-years-old. 

Guardians help each veteran along the way. Several nurses come along too, offering medical help, if needed.

It was the tenth time volunteers gathered to escort veterans, as part of the Honor Flight program in Central New York.

The local chapter's president, Randy Flath, made the first trip in 2012, knowing time was running out for members of the Greatest Generation to see the memorials in Washington D.C.

Since then, nearly 700 veterans have made the free trip. 

A National Park Services police escort meets the travelers before they see the WWII Memorial, the United States Air Force Memorial, and the Korean and Vietnam War Memorials.  

The group also watches the "Changing of the Guard" at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
 
At the end of the day, the welcome home reception in Syracuse has become a production as well.

The plane is met at Hancock International Airport with a water-cannon salute

The public is invited to line up at the airport with signs, letting the travelers know their service is appreciated as the Syracuse Scottish Pipe Band plays in the background.

Check our NewsChannel 9 Facebook page to see video of the welcome home ceremony on Saturday night.

NewsChannel 9 had a crew onboard the latest flight. You can see our special coverage on Veterans Day weekend. 

While the focus is on WWII and Korean War veterans, service members from any conflict who have a terminal illness are invited to join an Honor Flight as well.

Click here for more information about the program.


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