PORTLAND, Ore. — World War II veterans on-board South Willamette Valley’s first Honor Flight returned Sunday to a huge celebration.
Family and friends welcomed them at PDX. They waited anxiously with signs and banners for Southwest Flight 3414.
Alice Hanscam came to greet her husband, a retired staff sergeant who’s currently writing a memoir.
“Well, it brought back a lot of memories for him,” Hanscum said.
Also lining the terminal were Patriot Guard riders.
“We stand for those who stood for us,” said Patriot Guard rider Sue Reeves. “We come from a long line of veterans and both my brother served in Vietnam, and they didn’t get a very nice welcome home.”
This honor fight returned to fanfare. First, fire engines sprayed water, creating an arch for the plane, and then there was a the parade of veterans. The World War II veterans were greeted by cheers.
“Oh, just to show honor to my dad and to all the other vets who have served our country and have purchased our freedom for us today,” said Jane Snoddy, a daughter of a WWII veteran.
Fifty-eight veterans embarked on South Willamette Valley’s first Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. They made stops at the National World War II Monument and other war memorials.
Each veteran was accompanied by a guardian. Paul Armentrout, a B-24 airforce pilot, went with his son.
“It was really wonderful. I did not expect it to be that nice…Kinda hard to describe, but it makes me feel kinda small and all these people honoring you. It just doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem like maybe this should have happened,” Armentrout said.
“It touched them deeply. It was something that was so overdue for this generation of heroes and stuff,” said Mike Pungercar, SWV Honor Flight organzier.
Pungercar says there are still veterans on the waiting list.
“It’s a time-critical project because we are losing these veterans and we are losing their stories if we don’t share them,” Pungercar said.
Charlie Schull is one of them, a World War II veteran who hopes to be on the next Honor Flight.
“I do. I really do. I’ve never been to D.C. and what an opportunity,” Schull said.
Currently, there more than 60 World War II veterans are on the waiting list. The next flight is tentatively scheduled for late April 2013.