After nearly two years of COVID protocols, 113 military veterans boarded the first of four, Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) honor flights headed for Washington DC.
It was to be a day of reflection and fellowship for World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD). Their flight arrived to a warm welcome from a cheering crowd and patriotic music.
“I, myself, am a navy veteran, so it was an honor to meet the veterans and shake their hands,” said TSO Marques Butler.
The veterans loaded onto charter busses and received a police escort to visit the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Memorials located in Washington D.C. The veterans were able to see the memorials and share a heart-to-heart with one another.
After a long day and some rainy weather, the veterans arrived back at IAD for their evening departure home. TSA officers at IAD set up a special checkpoint for the veterans and their guardians to be screened.
“It was actually my first experience working with the Honor Flight. I was glad to see the veterans all excited and happy about their trip to the memorials, especially since they’ve all gone to war and served our country,” said LTSO Ligia Reyes.
The veterans and their guardians appreciated the expedited screening received by the TSA officers after their long day. “It was overall a great experience, and I was honored to be able to assist them with their screening, along with all the other officers on the checkpoint that day,” said Reyes.
All the TSA Officers were incredibly proud and honored to assist all the veterans with their departure. “It was a very proud and fulfilling duty to work on this Honor Flight as well as meet all the veterans,” said TSO Kevin Rojas.
Through TSA’s efforts, this memorable day was able to end smoothly. Pre-COVID-19, IAD typically handled around 40 Honor Flight departures a year; from March to November. This year they are expecting six departures.