WEST PALM BEACH — On Saturday, April 9, Palm Beach International Airport will be the place to be as Southeast Florida Honor Flight returns from its first Honor Flight mission of the 2022 season. At 7:20 p.m., 78 veterans will be returning from a full day of being honored and celebrated in Washington, D.C., courtesy of Southeast Florida Honor Flight. This first flight of 2022 includes one veteran who fought in both WWII and the Korean War, seven veterans from World War II, 32 from the Korean War, one who fought in both the Korean and Vietnam wars, and 37 Vietnam War veterans.
As in the past, a crowd of individuals will gather at Palm Beach International Airport to welcome the veterans home from their epic journey and to honor them for their brave and selfless service to our country. Operation Homecoming, which features music, flags, loads of laughter, and a chance to share the memory of a lifetime with American heroes, is free and open to the public.
On the April 9 daylong excursion to visit Washington, D.C. and all of the various monuments and memorials to honor their service to our freedom will be WWII veteran Joseph Reveman, who completed 24 missions in a B-17 Flying Fortress. If you see Mr. Reveman, be sure to ask him how he managed to accumulate and quite literally, burn up five full cases of the chocolaty drink YooHoo before he made it to his mission in Germany or how he was wounded while crash-landing behind enemy lines. Don’t be afraid to bring him a bottle of YooHoo as a welcome-home gift.
Every veteran on the flight has stories to share and memories – some they haven’t thought of in decades, and some they have never shared with anyone. During an Honor Flight mission, veterans on the trip are flown at no cost to Washington, D.C., where they are served throughout the day by volunteer guardians who have been trained to ensure the safety and enjoyment of each hero veteran flying.
Even if you don’t know anyone on the flight, you will find friends and neighbors in the crowd, and you’ll have a chance to cheer the veterans through the final steps of the day most say they remember as second only to their weddings and births of their children. Well-wishers are encouraged to bring signs, flags, and smiles to share with the veterans and guardians as they return, and you are guaranteed to walk away from the event with a lump in your throat, a smile on your face, and gratitude and pride in your heart for these humble heroes you’ve helped welcome home. Remember, some of these veterans never had the welcome home they so deserve. And while we are all tired of wearing masks, please remember that most of our veterans are immunocompromised, with many of them very frail and well into their late 90s. We ask you to help us keep them safe and healthy long after their Honor Flight mission and follow the TSA and airport requirements by wearing a mask to welcome them home.
If you, your neighbors, your church or social group, or family and friends are interested in being part of something special, please mark your calendars now for Saturday, April 9, at 7:20 p.m. at Palm Beach International Airport. Volunteers from the ground crew will direct you on where to go, but be ready for a heartwarming homecoming for some very special veterans and volunteers. To learn more about Southeast Florida Honor Flight and how you can become involved or to donate to the next flight, please visit www.honorflightsefl.org today.