DAYTON — No, it isn’t World War II, Korea or Vietnam all over again. If you want to experience the honor and privilege of attending one of the most patriotic events of your life, come to the Dayton International Airport by 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5 to get into position to welcome home and cheer for approximately 100 veterans, those wonderful people who fought for our freedom.
“The Dayton International Airport is honored to be the host airport and take part in this patriotic event,” said Terrence G. Slaybaugh, Director of Aviation for the city of Dayton.
The veterans arrive at 3:30 a.m. to prepare to board a charter flight at 6 a.m. They then fly to Washington DC to visit the WWII Memorial, Korean Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, USAF Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, the Changing of the Guard at the Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers and other sites. It is an exciting day for them and this free once-in-a-lifetime tour is a “thank you” for the service they rendered and the freedoms they secured for all of us, when they served in the U.S. military so many decades ago.
Upon arrival back at the Dayton Airport around 10:35 p.m., the veterans may think their day is over. Not so! As they deplane, a Military Guard of about 200 USAF personnel welcome the veterans and form a symbolic Honor March to accompany the veterans from the arrival gate to the Honor Corridor for their final special welcome. The Honor Corridor is lined by the Color Guards of the United States Air Force, Air Force Junior ROTC, and the Miami Valley Young Marines. The entire corridor is lined by additional military groups, Vietnam Veterans of America, Boy Scouts of America, Patriot Pin-Up Girls, Knights of Columbus, members of Police and Fire departments and of course, a large multitude of the veterans’ loved ones. It is always very patriotic, moving, and heart-warming.
Join the cheers of the waiting families, friends and grateful citizens. See the smiles and tears of the veterans as they pass through the Honor Corridor under the colorful U.S. and Military Service Flags. Join in the singing of the National Anthem and the cheering. All of these assure a singularly memorable event for the returning veterans and those who honor them. For many veterans it is the welcome home they never received and a small tribute for those who gave so much.
Honor Flight Dayton is inviting all local residents to attend this event. Please help to welcome home the returning veterans. Patriotic attire and signs are encouraged. Present and former military and public safety personnel are encouraged to come in uniform. It’s free, no charge and no reservations needed. PARKnGO in Vandalia offers free parking to anyone who comes to the Honor Flight. Just show up, stand up and cheer from the heart.
The Dayton International Airport will supply complementary water, beverages, fruits, and pastries to the outbound veterans as they make their way to their departure gate in the morning. Also, free on-airport parking is being provided to the traveling veterans and the volunteers of the Honor Flight organization. Additional airport staff, police, and fire fighters will be on hand to assist the group in their departure and return to the Dayton International Airport.