CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - A very special trip took place last weekend. The first Queen City Honor Flight touched down in Washington D.C., packed with veterans to see the war memorials.
FOX 46’s Diana Alvear got to be a part of the experience, to tell the veteran's stories and get results for the incredible men and women who served.
“You took very good care of us at one time, now all we ask is that you sit back and let us take care of you today,” the Honor Flight stewardess told the plane packed with war veterans.
For most of the flight to D.C., there was somber reflection.
“I’m thinking about my friends that I lost that are not here. I still, I still dream about combat. It’s just hard to sleep sometimes,” said Robert Leonhardt, a Korean War Veteran.
But as soon as the honor flight touched down, joy took over. Veterans received a hero’s welcome, complete with a marching band, crowds eager to shake hands and hug, and the words many of them had been waiting decades to hear.
Unbelievable. Unbelievable. So proud,” Vietnam veteran Thomas Wedrycgowicz said through tears. “Never seen it. This is uh, this is amazing.”
The sweetest surprise were the Boy Scouts, waiting excitedly to shake hands
Once on the bus, the tour began, and no one spoke as we passed hundreds of white tombstones at Arlington National Cemetery. It was quieter still at the tomb of the unknown soldier.
The only sounds were their commands and the scrapes and clicks of their heels at the changing of the guard.
Then, each group got their due. Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam were honored in ceremonies with medals at the memorials.
“Being here with my brothers and sisters is an honor. Being here to pay respects to these names on the wall is an honor,” one of the vets said.
So much to see, so much to feel, and their homecoming just as huge as their sendoff. A fitting end to a flight that defined honor.