Honor Flight vets welcomed as heros in Washington, Gulfport - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Honor Flight vets welcomed as heros in Washington, Gulfport

World War Two veterans on the third Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight receive a heros welcome as they return from their trip to Washington, D.C. Tuesday. World War Two veterans on the third Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight receive a heros welcome as they return from their trip to Washington, D.C. Tuesday.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDAM) -

94 World War Two veterans, their guardians and staff with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight received a rousing welcome Tuesday when they arrived at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. to see the National World War Two Memorial and other sites.

A small, but patriotic gathering of people welcomed the vets with music, balloons and handshakes. A few of them even received impromptu greetings from former Speaker of the House and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who was waiting on a flight.

"It was a great welcome, everybody was nice as they could be," said Jack Bryant, a veteran from Collins, Mississippi who was on the Honor Flight.

"They sure gave us a grand welcome, it was real nice," said Jim Sifers, another Honor Flight veteran from Gulfport.

After a short bus trip, the group arrived at the National World War Two Memorial, where they were greeted by Sen. Roger Wicker and Rep. Steven Palazzo.

"It's just very moving for me, as one of their representatives in the Senate to come out and say thank you from a grateful nation," said Sen. Wicker.

"We owe everything, America's prosperity, our national security, the fact that not only are we a great country, but we're an exceptional country, to the greatest generation, that's our World War Two men and women," said Rep. Palazzo.

Following the visit to the memorial, the group took a quick driving tour of other notable sites before viewing a changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

Their whirlwind tour over, the group then flew back home to Gulfport, where they received a hero's welcome, complete with marching bands, patriotic signs and heartfelt words of thanks from dozens of active-duty military personnel.

I wanted to support the troops in case they weren't welcomed home the first time and I want to teach my kids about patriotism," said Mary Heidingsfelder of Gulfport, who attended the welcome home celebration.

"I came out here tonight to honor the World War Two veterans and to say thank you for all the sacrifices they made and for making sure that we have the country we have today," said Dan Thurtell, of Long Beach, Miss., who also attended the wecome home celebration. 

It's more than I even expected, let's just say that," said Charles Brock, a Gulf Coast veteran who was part of the Honor Flight. 

"I appreciate everybody turning out like they did, that means so much," he said. 

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