INDIANAPOLIS — The Indy Honor Flight hub recently completed its third trip to Washington, D.C., bringing 70 Central Indiana World War II veterans.
Among the veteran group, eight were from Hendricks County: Joseph Macri (Marine Corps), Oscar McClure (Army), Howard McKnight (Army), Kenneth Paschall (Marines), Robert Pearcy (Navy), Rubert Smith (Army Air Force), George Tapscott (Army) and Harold Thompson (Army).
Several thousand family members, friends and citizens gathered at the Indianapolis International Airport in a parade-like atmosphere to clap, cheer and wave flags as the aged heroes from a war fought 70+ years ago passed by them one by one with large portraits of their service photos carried behind them by their trip “guardians.”
Volunteer guardians accompany the veterans on each trip.
The veterans, many of whom returned from World War II months after its end and never received a proper homecoming, were welcomed back in grand fashion as they walked out of the B Concourse and into the Civic Plaza that was adorned with flags, balloons, posters, and throngs of people.
A bagpipe procession led the way as each veteran and their guardian walked through a hallway of cheering people who had gathered to thank and welcome home their local heroes. Along the route, each veteran received a welcome home kiss from a woman dressed in 1940’s clothing.
At the end of the procession the veterans were reunited with their family members. Tears, smiles and hugs were evident everywhere.
The travel group of 149 people (70 veterans, 70 guardians and nine volunteer staff) had departed earlier Saturday morning for the all day trip to Washington, D.C.
Highlights of their excursion included stops at the National World War II Memorial, the Korean War and Vietnam War memorials and Arlington National Cemetery, where the group witnessed the changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Four of the veterans helped place a wreath at the tomb.