Hundreds of people packed Midway Airport to greet World War II veterans returning home from Washington D.C. They were back from the trip of a lifetime, thanks to the group “Honor Flight Chicago”, who’ve made it their mission to recognize veterans with a special one-day visit to our nation’s capital.
There they relived history while touring artifacts from our country’s past, from the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial to the Enola Gay to the memorial built in their honor.
“These are our American heroes – every one of them,” said Ron Wolflick, a volunteer for Honor Flight Chicago. “When they came home in the ‘40’s, there really wasn’t much that we did for them. They had welcome homes of course but not like they have now. When they built the memorial in Washington, it was a true tribute and once they got on track with that, Honor Flight was started and [we] fly so they could see a memorial that was made for them.“
Naperville resident Joe Chovelak took the latest trip with his daughter, Cindy. Chovelak was a radio operator for a B29 bomber plane during World War II.
“The B29 was so much more sophisticated,” said Joe. “We could travel thousands of miles more than the B17 and some of the others. It was a new thing and as it turned out the Air Force became a new item.”
“I think my dad is the best and he’s been the historian for his bomb group for the past 25 years and this was just a culmination to go there and see the memorial and to honor him,” said Cindy.
Several hundred volunteers raise money year round so that the veterans can take the trip for free.
Upon their return, family, friends, and the community filled the airport donning red, white, and blue and waving old glory to show appreciation for the 93 men and women who risked their lives decades ago for our freedom, as well as those currently in service.
“I think it’s absolutely incredible when I see all different ages – kids, grandkids, even great, great grand kids here,” said Aurora resident, Martin Rogers. “It makes me very, very proud and glad to be an American.”
Honor Flight Chicago started in 2008 and so far has taken more than 3,200 veterans on 35 flights to the nation’s capital. The group still has two more trips left for veterans to take this year.
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