Ninety U.S. military veterans enjoyed a hot buffet breakfast at a Baltimore Hilton on Sunday before hopping on an Alaska Airlines jet emblazoned with “Honoring Those Who Serve” and flying five hours to a warm welcome-home reception in San Diego.
Times of San Diego contributing photographer Chris Stone, making her second April trip with Honor Flight San Diego, captured images including Saturday’s tours of monuments and memorials in the nation’s capital.
On the flight home, San Diego County veterans of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars talked and laughed in a party atmosphere.
They walked up and down aisles, exchanging stories on the nonstop charter flight that included an equal number of guardians — volunteers and family members paired with the veterans.
At San Diego International’s Terminal 2, the group stepped off the plane to hear loud patriotic music from the baggage-claim floor below. First they passed through an arch of red, white and blue balloons.
Then came salutes from active military, including sailors in white uniforms who formed parallel lines of honor.
- Part 1: How Honor Flight San Diego Saved a Life: Until Trip, Viet Vet ‘Didn’t Care Anymore’
- Part 2: Treasured Tradition: Military ‘Mail Call’ Triggers Tears on SD Honor Flight to D.C.
- Part 3: Ignored No More: Female Korean War Nurses in Earned Spotlight in D.C. Trip
The Honor Flighters then made their way down escalators (or elevators if using wheelchairs) with service members lining adjacent stairs.
Kids and adults with signs greeted them below. An airport comfort dog made the rounds.
Girl Scouts handed out boxes of cookies. Small flags were distributed and backs were slapped. Many — especially Vietnam vets denied this homecoming in the 1960s and early 1970s — wept.
Check out these videos for the mood of Saturday’s tour and Sunday’s welcome home.
And to join a waiting list for the free twice-a-year flights — open to all local service veterans through Vietnam with priority given to WWII and Korean War veterans, and veterans from any era with terminal illnesses — view this page.
To donate to Honor Flight San Diego click here .
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