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Welcome Home Grampa Ed: Honor Flight 3 lands in Champaign, IL

October 20, 2012

Welcome Home Grampa Ed!
Ed Fletcher is welcomed home by his great grandchildren at the return of the Central Illinois Honor Flight on Friday night, October 19. 2012.

PHOTO GALLERY

Savoy (Guns Save Life) – Willard Airport in Savoy, IL hosted several hundred central Illinoisans, scores of emergency vehicles, a high school band and a huge flag suspended between two fire department ladder trucks to welcome back 65 World War II veterans from a two-day trip to Washington, D.C. as part of the Honor Flight program.

Over 900 flags lined the entrance to the airport and the excited crowd braved chilly temperatures and a light drizzle to welcome each of the equally thrilled veterans off the plane, one at a time.

Scores of emergency vehicles were present, along with hundreds of people to welcome back the veterans just a couple of minutes before the plane made it’s approach.

The vets were taken to see the World War II war memorial, along with memorials for the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and memorials to each military service branch.  In addition, they were taken to the Smithsonian, the National Air and Space Museum and Arlington National Cemetery as part of the trip.

Firefighters carefully raise Old Glory ahead of the arrival of the Honor Flight from Washington D.C.

The crowd was very enthusiastic and welcoming of the vets as they came down the steps from the plane.  Volunteers helped each navigate the stairs with care and love to awaiting family members below.

At the base of the stairs, they were given a hug and often more and asked if they wanted to ride in a wheelchair back to the tent for the reception afterwards.  A majority, despite being tired, declined the chair and walked proudly on the red carpet for the closing ceremony.

There were many smiles and tears of joy for the returning veterans.  Everyone realized how this trip would certainly be something remembered forever among the participants.

 

 

Still more veterans and their families await the arrival of the plane. It was delayed about ninety minutes.

 

Still more veterans and their families await the arrival of the plane. It was delayed about ninety minutes.

 

Still more veterans and their families await the arrival of the plane. It was delayed about ninety minutes.

 

A shot of the back half of the crowd as the plane was landing.

 

Family members and friends left the heated tent to greet the plane.

 

 

 

Old Glory high above.

 

Keep your eye on these two.

 

Towing the plane into position to unload.

 

Patriot Guard was present with an Honor Guard.

 

First man off the plane! The crowd went wild.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, even a female World War II vet. A Marine at that!

 

 

How about that?

 

Dick Burwash, one of our Guns Save Life family! He clearly had a great time.

 

A hug and a kiss.

 

 

 

 

Returning the salute from the Honor Guard.

 

Little girl making sure her great Grandfather Ed Fletcher has a place to step!

 

Told you to keep your eye on these kids.

 

 

A misty moment for many of us.

 

A quick group photo at the plane.

 

 

 

Over nine hundred flags lined the drive into Willard Airport in Savoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Responses to Welcome Home Grampa Ed: Honor Flight 3 lands in Champaign, IL

  1. Wendy Lund on October 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    What a wonderful event to be a part of. Even a cold rain didn’t turn any away. There were many cheers and even a few tears. Was an amazing event.

  2. Jeff on October 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Excellent. Just excellent. Can’t be more proud of the vets, or this entire effort.

  3. Kara on November 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful pictures of Grampa Ed. The pics of the girls were so cute!!