Veterans Voices: After 18-month pandemic grounding, Honor Flight Syracuse flies again with 80 veterans

Veterans Voices

Starting Thursday, NewsChannel 9 and LocalSYR.com are honoring Central New York’s servicemembers with a series of special reports from Washington, D.C. for Honor Flight Syracuse’s Mission 15 culminating with a special broadcast on Veterans Day, “Veterans Voices.” That show can be seen from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 11.


WASHINGTON, D.C. (WSYR-TV) — It’s one week from Veterans Day, but a group of 80 Central New York veterans already had a day devoted just to them as part of Syracuse Honor Flight.

After all that they’ve been through — bombings, being shot, captured, life-or-death decisions — it was unimaginable that a microscopic virus unseen to the naked eye is what would ground their trip scheduled for April of 2020.

Finally, after 18 months of waiting and seeing postponements, the 80 men who served in World War II, Vietnam, Korea, and elsewhere, made their way to Washington, D.C. with the red carpet treatment.

The group saw the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial Wall, Korean Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery.

The vets were served breakfast, lunch, and dinner, had help with wheelchairs, water always not far behind, a class photo, and a ceremonial maildrop on the return flight.

Le Moyne College nursing students, who always join Honor Flight, were more important than ever. Not only did they care for each veteran’s unique health situation, but they also checked vaccine proof for each person on board. And brought hand sanitizer to every person after every stop.

The pandemic forced a subdued welcome to Washington and no police escort with the busses meant more time waiting in traffic.

Only people on previous trips would notice the difference.

The pandemic couldn’t stop the tradition of the welcome home ceremony back at Syracuse Hancock International Airport. Honor Flight didn’t promote the event to keep it quiet, but that didn’t work. Some said it was the biggest celebration they ever had.

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