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A Welcome Like No Other

October 25, 2010, 6:03 PM by Nicole Winters

A Welcome Like No Other
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Many World War II veterans never really received a welcome home when they returned from war.  Many went right into their daily lives. That's one reason why Honor Flight makes sure every veteran is thanked for their service, and this most recent flight is no different.

It's a welcome like no other.  Bagpipes and drums echo through the halls of Dulles Airport as greeters of all ages wave flags, offer up hugs and even a few kisses to the Veterans on South Dakota's ninth Honor Flight.

For some of the 110 World War II vets, the welcome moves them to dance. It brings others to tears.  It's an emotional showing for everyone, even those who've never met the men and women they're thanking.

"I was crying, they're a pretty big deal to us," Nelson Stewart said. 

Stewart is part of a group called the Rogues.  The U.S. and Canadian group raises money for wounded vets. As soon as Stewart heard about the Honor Flight coming in, he changed his flight to greet them and give them a show along the way.

"I’ll never forget it.  The whole time I was standing there and I thought, 'I'm so lucky to be standing here.'  I know my guys feel the same way," Stewart said.

Jeff Smith is part of another group called the 'ground crew', only he doesn't play an instrument; instead, he offers a handshake,

"Some of these guys didn't get a welcome when they came home from war.  We like to give them that welcome," Smith said.

Smith greets two to three Honor Flights a week in D.C.  He says his reward is meeting the veterans, and it allows him to remember a hero close to him.

"My dad was a World War II vet.  He's not with us anymore, so he didn't get to see this, so I do it for him," Smith said.

Whatever the reason, each thank you will be remembered.

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