ESCANABA – World War II and Korean War veterans from the Upper Peninsula received a hero’s welcome home Thursday night after a trip to Washington D.C.
Family members, friends and community members greeted the returning veterans at the Delta County Airport with cheers, shouting “welcome home” and “thank you.”
Eighty veterans went on the Upper Peninsula Honor Flight Thursday to see the memorials dedicated in their honor. It was the seventh mission for the group.
Al Gerber of Menominee went to honor his brothers who served with him during World War II. He came home last night excited but also touched by what he saw at Arlington National Cemetery when asked what his favorite part of the trip was.
“It wasn’t a favorite, it was a sad part seeing all of the graves. That’s the worst part,” he said. “We give freedom to everyone and our men are the ones going. It was hard.”
Emily Ramiller of Manistique was in the Air Corp during World War II maintaining airplanes at a training facility for pilots. She enjoyed seeing the memorials but was touched a letter on the way home that she received during mail call.
“I got one from a little boy. It was picture of a submarine and his name was Owen. My son Owen was in the submarines. That was such a coincidence,” she said.
Eighteen of the veterans on the Honor Flight served during World War II. Honor Flight organizer Barb VanRooy says it was good to still have World War II vets on the flight.
“It is very special to have them along because there are not that many of them left because they are getting elderly. We know they are one of the last ones to be able to go on an Honor Flight,” VanRooy said as she greeted the veterans departing the plane.
VanRooy said the veterans enjoyed seeing the memorials and were impressed with the number of people at the memorials thanking them for their service to the country.
Another U.P. Honor Flight is scheduled for next spring.