Tears welled up in the eyes of veterans feeling the emotion of a welcome home to Syracuse's Hancock Airport. A charter flight on the first Saturday of October returned Honor Flight Syracuse after a whirlwind day in Washington DC touring the monuments built in their name.
On this Veterans Day weekend the leaders, volunteers and veterans of Honor Flight Syracuse were part of this parade at the New York State Fairgrounds. Fresh in their mind is last month's trip to Washington and Arlington.
Watch slideshow of photos from the Honor Flight trip to Washington.
Navy Veteran Lymie Ashworth was thrilled to make the trip, "who would ever think 50 or 60 years later anyone would care," said Ashworth. "But, it seems like they do."
Ashworth was among the 64 Central New York World War II and Korean War veterans who made the Honor Flight trip. Most of the members of the group are 90 years old or better. They were seeing the World War II Memorial for the first time.
23 year old Navy Information Systems Technician Brendan Mooney made the trip from Virginia to pay his respects to these soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who came before him. "If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be here," said Mooney. "These people were the real heroes. I can't do a tenth of what they could do."
Army veteran Vincent Bova took time away from his security job at the New York State Fairgrounds to return to Washington for the first time in 67 years. That's when Bova was a young soldier passing through town. All these years later he feels the World War II Monument speaks to him. "It's us. It's us. The world war II veterans. What we did and that's it. What I loved about it," explained Bova.
Thelma Dillon of Liverpool feels the same way. She was one of the few women veterans to make the Honor Flight trip. "I'm very impressed with this memorial," said the retired nurse. "It's a little different than I thought. But, it's beautiful."
Dillon has an impressive military resume. She's now 94, but she still tells stories of being part of the Army 52nd General Hospital which was made up mostly of doctors and nurses form the Syracuse University Medical School.
Dillon served in an Allied hospital in England in the weeks leading up to D-Day in June of 1944. In the weeks following the invasion she was transported over the English Channel to a field hospital just behind the front line in France. She was ultimately discharged as a combat veteran which was a rare honor for women during World War II.
Honor Flight's mission is to transport veterans to Washington to visit the national memorials dedicated to their service and sacrifice. They do so at no cost to the veterans. Honor Flight Syracuse has a major sponsor in SRC, Inc. All of its funding comes from private donations and fundraisers. It took more than 60 volunteers to make the trip possible for the 64 veterans.
Oswego County World War II veteran Howard Hall made the Honor Flight trip to Washington with his sons. One of them was his designated escort. Hall had a smiled plastered across his face during the entire day. He said, "I never expected to see a day like this. Never thought it I'd see it."
Our Honor Flight Special Report airs Monday, Veterans Day, on NBC 3 and CBS 5 at 6:00 and 11:00 pm.