Dozens of American war veterans, including six veterans from World War II, took the trip of a lifetime from the Cincinnati area to our nation’s capital, thanks to the Honor Flight Network. Honor Flight honors America’s veterans for all of their sacrifices by flying our heroes to Washington to visit our country’s top war and military memorials and spend time to reflect on their service.
Before their flight, they were given a big sendoff at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), and TSA CVG played a big part. Officers welcomed and screened the Honor Flight veterans.
Supervisory Transportation Security Officer Orlando Donaldson organized the check-in process before a welcome ceremony and press conference. “It was a great feeling to see these great Americans who fought for our country and just take a few minutes to say, ‘Thank you,’” said Donaldson. “I put in place very friendly officers to check veterans’ and guardians’ boarding passes to make the transition from the celebration area to the plane run smoothly.”
“It is a great program,” said Officer Robert Brooks. “My father went through it and still talks about it. The veterans all seem to enjoy it. They laugh, they cry, they tell stories, they meet new friends and have a great day remembering old friends.”
Officer Tamara Cleveland said, “Every single veteran who came through had the biggest smile, because they knew this day is just for them. Shaking their hands and seeing the joy on their faces is very gratifying.”
Once all of the veterans were checked in and seated, the Hamilton County (Ohio) bagpipers played a march, and the TSA CVG Honor Guard presented the colors.
Officer Renee Durham, a nine-year Color Guard member, said, “I am blessed that I can honor the vets this way … [Participating] in the Honor Flights is an amazing thing. To see all the heroes is great. TSA can give back to them for sacrificing so much.”
Hundreds of people lined the airport to greet the veterans and thank them for their service.
Following the ceremony, the veterans and their family members went through TSA screening before boarding their flight. Officers, including the Color Guard, accompanied the group to the gate.
“As we stand at the gate to see them off, they always ask to take pictures with us as though we are the celebrated ones,” said Officer Linda Elliott. “They smile, shake our hands and thank us for serving. I remind them we are here to thank them for their service.”
The CVG Fire Department sent the plane off with a big water cannon display while the TSA Color Guard saluted. This won’t be the airport’s last Honor Flight celebration. CVG will participate in another one later this month.