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Honor Flight veterans given warm welcome home - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Honor Flight veterans given warm welcome home

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TUCSON- Local veterans returned from a trip to Washington DC, organized by Honor Flight Southern Arizona.

Honor Flight Southern Arizona is an organization that provides WWII, Vietnam and Korean War veterans the opportunity to see their national memorials in Washington DC at no cost. 

Saturday, 67 veterans departed from the Tucson International Airport.

The group returned Monday afternoon. The veterans were greeted by hundreds of cheering people.  Among them, was Army veteran Charles ‘Chuck’ Harkins, 85.

“The Korean War Memorial was first class,” said Harkins. “It brought tears to my eyes.”

Several people from Harkins family were at the airport to welcome him home. When asked how he felt about the large crowds there, he said it made him happy.

“It made me so happy that people felt so good about what we stood for,” he said. “We are free and that freedom didn't come cheap”.

Harkins’ family said he had been on the honor flight waiting list for years and was “ecstatic” about the trip.

Honor Flight Southern Arizona also appoints Guardians on the Honor Flight trips. Guardians are people who go on the trip to ensure the veterans have a safe and memorable experience.

Stephen Westby is a veteran and was a Guardian on the trip.

“You got to see people who may or may not have been thanked when they got back. I was (thanked) when I got back from Iraq. You had people lining the streets to say thank you. These guys didn't all get that,” said Westby. “It's just special. There is not a lot of stuff out there like this anymore and it is really cool to see people come together to help the folks that came before us. That's the reason we are here, is those guys.”

The Labor Day weekend trip was the chapter’s 23rd flight. It was the only flight of 2017.

According to its website, Honor Flight Southern Arizona works year-round to conduct as many flights as possible. Flights will take-off as scheduled if funding and Guardian needs are met.

Honor Flight Southern Arizona is looking for people to become Guardians. To learn about becoming a Guardian, click here.

To donate, click here. 

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