ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Veterans across the region travelled to Washington D.C. to visit memorials and gravesites dedicated to the era they served, marking the return of Honor Flight Rochester.  

A total of 57 veterans took part in the first trip of six planned. There was at least one vet from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War.

After taking off Saturday for D.C. those who fought in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War were welcomed back with a massive celebration at the Rochester International Airport.

“It was very good,” Vietnam Veteran Dennis Jones said. “I mean all the veterans who had a lot of stories which is good, and you meet a lot of veterans that were over and explored everything that you did.” 

Honor Flight Rochester was able to do this with the help of 800 volunteers dedicating their time to cheer for each veteran as they got off the plane and assist them through the airport. Additionally, there was a ceremony to recognize their heroic service.  

“People can talk about it all day long but until you’re there and you got your boots on the ground listening to all these veterans and you’re watching how emotional they’re getting at these memorials,” Mission 70 volunteer Maggie Stewart said. “Nothing hits you like that.” 

“There is nothing like giving back to our veterans,” Honor Flight Rochester Ground Crew Tracy Williams said. “My dad was in World War II, and I had the chance to fly him on Mission 44 and it was the best experience of my life.”  

While on the trip each veteran had a guardian to spend time with and help them navigate around all the Washington monuments. They also received letters from children who wanted to learn about their service in the military, which felt more special since they haven’t experienced this since 2019.  

“When I came back from Vietnam we were not looked at in a good way,” Jones explained. “This helps heal because it’s much better now than when I came back.”  

Special Guest speakers included Monroe County Executive Adam Bello as well as former News 8 Anchor Maureen McGuire.

Honor Flight Rochester plans to hold two more trips this Spring and three in the Fall.  

If you would like to volunteer with Honor Flight Rochester and join veterans on the next trip to Washington D.C., you can register on the organization’s social media pages.