By WILLIAM J. KELLY
Second of two parts.
In Friday’s Democrat I wrote about what the Honor Flight was. Now I will cover the actual flight to Washington, D.C.
It was here, our big day, and at 4:30 a.m. we and our guardians were all at the DFW International Airport – wide awake, believe it or not. I met Sandy Linde-Ellis at 3 a.m. and rode with her to the airport. Talking with her assured me that it was going to be a wonderful trip. Of course I can’t remember being up and about that early for anything.
We were all dressed in our Honor Flight outfits and looked great for guys our age.
An American Airlines person gave us a welcoming talk, as did one of our veterans prior to our boarding the plane. All the people there gave us a big send off as we had the honor of boarding first. It was an enthusiastic send off, and little did we know that there was more to come. The flight was smooth and, as we approached Washington, the pilot told us what we would see out of each side of the plane. It was a beautiful sight and Judy and I took pictures through our window. They came out very nice.
The pilot made a very smooth landing, and as we taxied in toward the gate I saw two fire trucks waiting there. I was a bit concerned until they suddenly turned on their water hoses and aimed the water over our plane, giving us a surprise welcome. A first for me!
That was just the beginning, for as we entered the airport there was a big crowd of people smiling, cheering, clapping and saying thank you for your service as we walked or were wheel-chaired through them. A military ensemble lined up on both sides of the aisle played the service songs as we passed through. It was a very emotional moment for me and the others because we had never experienced anything like that before – the first time in over 65 years. It brought a tear to my eye. I will never forget that moment.