Hundreds filled midway airport in red, white, and blue to greet World War II veterans returning home from a one-day trip to Washington D.C.
There Naperville resident Robert Saintey toured the different monuments with his grandson Chris Chavez.
“It was a long day but well worth it,” said Chavez. “Seeing the memorials with my grandfather was just amazing. There are no words to describe it.”
The not-for-profit Honor Flight Chicago has provided roughly 4,000 Chicagoland veterans with free trips to the nation’s capital year round since 2008, thanks to more than 400 volunteers. Upon their return, the men and women receive a heartfelt homecoming.
“It just brought tears to my eyes,” said Saintey.
“When they came home in 1945 or 1946, they didn’t get this kind of a welcome,” said Jody Kopsky, President of Honor Flight Chicago. “Most of them got off a bus or got off the El, or off a train and just started working. So we try to give them the welcome they didn’t get during those years. And it’s our way of saying ‘Thank you!’”
Chavez assisted not only his grandfather on the flight, but also fellow Naperville veteran, Morton Hartman, who was in the infantry in Germany during WWII.
“I feel very flattered to be here, to be part of this celebration for us,” he said. “The thought that went into this helped us and it’s really the closure of an important part of our lives.”
“You heard them coming by and saying how incredible it was and what a nice moment it was,” said his grandson Matthew Moran. “So it was nice to support them and show people that we haven’t forgotten.”
Honor Flight Chicago plans to open the program up to Korean War and Vietnam War veterans in the near future.
In the meantime, there are still six more honor flights this year. If there’s a veteran you’d like to sign up, visit www.honorflightchicag.org.
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