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Old Glory Honor Flight returns to largest homecoming crowd
( June 8, 2017)
Author: Jeff Alexander
Source: WBAY

WASHINGTON (WBAY) -- More than 125 military veterans from northeast Wisconsin, spanning 75 years of service and sacrifice, made the trip to Washington, DC, on Wednesday.

And they came home to the biggest homecoming crowd ever.

Appleton, Wisconsin-based Old Glory Honor Flight celebrated a milestone in truly unique fashion. To mark its 40th mission of transporting vets free of charge to see their war memorials in Washington, Old Glory arranged a generations Honor Flight.

More than 40 veterans of the more recent desert wars in Iraq and Afghanistan served as guardians to the World War II, Korean and Vietnam war veterans, making this the largest group of vets Old Glory has ever flown.

Both the older veterans and desert veterans talked about their experience and why it's a day they'll never forget.

"Overwhelming," Korean War veteran Bernie Faust called the trip. "I mean, it's spectacular. I've been to Washington a number of times, but never like this. To be amongst the fellow veterans, and the treatment we are getting from the Old Glory people, it's beyond definition."

"These guys have treated me like a brother from the minute we have started chatting on the phone all the way through the day. And, they're just wonderful guys, and I'm really honored to be spending the day with them today," desert war veteran Shane Fitzsimmons said.

And it was a moving experience for the veterans on the trip.

The itinerary, as it always is, is full, providing them all kinds of opportunities to enjoy their time on the National Mall and mill around and visit their war memorials. They could also see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Additionally, the bus trip took them around the district to see the White House, the Capitol and other sights.

One final highlight from the trip was the attention they received from a group of middle school students from West De Pere, a class of about 100 students, who just happened to be there on a field trip. They stopped by to wish the veterans well and show their appreciation.

When they arrived home Wednesday night, the crowd stretched from the gate to the outside of the airport. Appleton Airport officials say the turnout of several thousand people was by far the largest Honor Flight welcome home crowd the airport ever had.

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