Vets return from WWII memorial visit
A group of World War II veterans from the Triangle returned home on Thursday evening after a day-long visit to the memorial in their honor on the National Mall.Posted — Updated
The 100 veterans were part of the second Flight of Honor, which took off from Raleigh-Durham International Airport at about 8 a.m. and returned just over 12 hours later.
The nonprofit Triangle Flight of Honor provides all-expenses-paid, day-long trips for WWII veterans to see the memorial, which was dedicated in 2004.
A couple thousand people were at the RDU parking deck on Thursday night to give the veterans a "Hero's Welcome."
"I'm here to praise them. They've been through difficult times and they came back successful," Triangle resident Robert Povlock said.
"I can't handle it. The most surprising thing (was) to see this many people come and see some old guys like us. It's unreal," veteran Paul Salvatore said.
WRAL viewers and online visitors donated more than $50,000 to sponsor Thursday's trip, as well as a flight in October.
Before the veterans departed, RDU firefighters provided a water-cannon salute, sending an arch of water over the plane as it taxied to the runway.
In Washington, veterans toured the WWII memorial for an hour in the rain before visiting other war monuments and memorials honoring Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.
"Oh, it was beautiful, even though it rained. It was very inspiring. I loved it," veteran Allen Woods said.
The trip brought tears to the eyes of veteran Clyde Miller.
Flight of Honor organizers say they want as many of the aging veterans – many of whom are ill or on fixed incomes – as possible to see the WWII memorial.
Triangle Flight of Honor is organizing another flight for next spring.