FRESNO, Calif. - It was a whirlwind trip to the nation's capitol. The 16th Central Valley Honor Flight is now a wonderful memory for those who went. And, as is tradition, there was a hero's welcome at the Fresno Air Terminal as the veteran's arrived home to much love, patriotism and support.
The cheers began the moment the 16th Central Valley Honor Flight plane touched the ground. A hero's welcome home that included a water arch salute from the fire department. But the excitement really intensified once the 66 Honor Flight veterans appeared before the appreciative crowd.
It was the trip of a lifetime, for these vets- 22 from World War Two-- who ranged in age from 66 to 97. Highlights included visits to the Washington D.C. memorials erected in their honor. Special for this trip: V-E Day ceremonies to mark the allied victory in Europe in 1945.
Dwight Dutcher flew 46 reconnaissance missions during the Korean War. He described the three day trip as emotional. With Arlington National Cemetery leaving a lasting impression. That and the attention to detail from Honor Flight organizers. "The people who do this are absolutely flawless. There's not a stone unturned. They take care of everything," Dutcher said.
Plenty of family and friends were on hand to greet Dutcher and the others. Most special in the crowd, Dutcher's wife of 65 years who he hadn't seen in three very busy days. "I missed him. She missed me doing the chores," Dutcher said with a smile.
The trip of a lifetime. With an ending to be remembered for years to come.