Southern Ill. veterans celebrated at welcome home ceremony after Honor Flight

Welcome home ceremony for Illinois veterans.
Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 11:01 AM CDT|Updated: May. 10, 2023 at 12:24 AM CDT
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MARION, Ill. (KFVS) - A group of around 87 southern Illinois veterans returned home on Tuesday evening, May 9, after a trip to Washington, D.C. with the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois.

The public was invited to come out to the welcome home event and festivities at the Veterans Airport in Marion, Ill. Hundreds of people wearing patriotic attire brought banners, flags and lawn chairs, lining the front of Veterans Airport in Marion, Ill. to show their support for the veterans.

Many veterans that have been on previous Honor Flights who were in attendance wore their red shirts. Organizers say these veterans have VIP access at the celebration.

“The community support for the previous Honor Flight Welcome Home events has been overwhelming,” said Welcome Home organizer Deborah Hogg. “There is no better way to celebrate our veterans and honor them than by giving them a hero’s welcome home.”

As the veterans made their way down the Freedom Path, they were moved--filled with emotion--as many served in the Vietnam War and, at the time, did not get the welcome back they deserved.

One veteran said that seeing the monuments honoring those who served in Washington D.C. today meant so much to him.

“It’s hard to explain, there’s so much and so many things to see,” said Korean War veteran Maurice Albert. “It’s amazing--all of the names of people that have given their lives for the country. It’s heartwarming.”

The next Honor Flight is scheduled for September 26. This will be the 11th Honor Flight.

As for the homecoming prep festivities, Emcee George Davis and Matt Throgmorton from Byassee Music and Sound sang the National Anthem.

Several food trucks participated in the welcome home event including, Deep South, Sweet Shish Kabob, Chef Adams Food is Life, Cone To Table, The Fry Guy, Venenzi Wood Fired Pizza, American Ice Cream Truck and Moore than Coffee, who have all made a donation to this year’s 10th Honor Flight.

“And while the public is enjoying their dinner, they can also enjoy the local entertainment” said Amanda Throgmorton of the Welcome Home Planning Committee. “The entertainment line-up for the evening includes Daniel Brothers Band, Barber Shop Quartet and the JOY Singers from Marion First Baptist Church.”

Because of limited parking available on the airport grounds, the public was encouraged to use park-and-ride transportation services provided by Rides Mass Transit. This was a free service with buses departing from Sam’s Club and Cornerstone Church throughout the event, approximately every 20 minutes, beginning at 5 p.m.

For more information about the Veterans honor Flight of Southern Illinois, visit their website.