“It’s a once in a lifetime kind of event,” 75 veterans to take off in Honor Flight this Saturday
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It’s being billed as the trip of a lifetime for 75 veterans in the Cape Fear region.
A plane loaded with veterans from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars is flying to Washington, D.C. to visit the monuments and memorials erected in honor of their service to this country.
“When we tear up, we don’t call them tears, we call them Honor Flight allergies,” said Ruth Ravitz Smith, founder of Honor Flight of the Cape Fear Area. “To be on the same plane together, to walk up to the monuments together and see the names of people we know who are no longer with us, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of event.”
“There’s a lot of camaraderie there; if you haven’t been, you don’t understand,” said Bob Wiant, an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam. “When I returned home and landed in California, someone spit on me. I lost it, jumped the fence and was arrested.”
This 16-hour trip is a giant “thank you for your service.”
Those on last year’s flight say it lived up to the hype.
“I can’t tell you what the experience meant to me,” said Gayle Pfiffer, who joined the Air Force back in 1971. “Tomorrow is promised to no one. Don’t put it off and take advantage of that rare opportunity.”
Honor Flight of the Cape Fear Area wants Saturday to be a community-wide event.
Last year, close to one thousand people lined the exit and road leading from ILM Airport. Crews would love to see that number doubled this year.
Anyone interested in welcoming these veteran heroes back to Wilmington is asked to line up at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. The plane is scheduled to land at 9:20 p.m., and crews would like everyone in place.
“It’s a feeling I’ll never forget,” said George Schwartzman. “Aside from my wedding and the birth of my children. It was one of the greatest days of my life.”
To learn about the flight or sign up for an upcoming trip, you can visit the Honor Flight CFA website.
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