McChord airmen welcome WWII veterans home

By Senior Airman Divine Cox on May 5, 2016

More than 100 United States Armed Forces members from all branches of service greeted World War II veterans upon their arrival to SeaTac International Airport, April 25.

The servicemembers greeted the veterans as they stepped off the airplane from visiting the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. They thanked them for their service to our country and escorted them down to the SeaTac atrium where they were applauded for their service by more than 500 family, friends and bystanders.

The event was sponsored by the Puget Sound Honor Flight, which was established in March 2013.

According to their website, the Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit organization created solely to honor America's veterans for their sacrifices. They transport military heroes to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect at the memorials.

"When I found out that there were more than two hundred veterans on a waiting list in the Puget Sound, I knew I had to do something," said Renee Peavey, PSHF co-director. "My husband and I have worked hard to get this hub up and running so we can honor our local veterans and get them back to see the memorials."

More than 20 airmen from Team McChord volunteered their time to greet and escort the WWII veterans upon their arrival.

"It was an honor meeting the veterans and hearing their experiences from when they served," said Airman 1st Class Mason Woodman, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief.

Fifty-two WWII veterans were escorted off the plane and down to the atrium where they received quilts and attended the "Welcome Home Celebration."

"The veteran I spoke with on the way down to the atrium shared some amazing stories from their tours," said airman Jeremy Ilaban, 62nd AMXS crew chief. "I felt honored to be able to be a part of this welcome home celebration."

For many of the veterans, it was the first time they had seen the WWII Memorial. The memorial opened to the public April 29, 2004 and honors the 16 million who served in the Armed Forces of the U.S., the more than 400,000 who died and all who supported the war effort from home, according to its website.

At the end of the welcome home celebration, Peavey thanked all the volunteers for helping and making the event such a success.

"I'm glad I volunteered and got the opportunity to meet and honor these men and women who served our country in World War II," said Woodman. "I am truly humbled to be a part of this event and would recommend to those who haven't done an honor flight to find out when they are and give to those who served before us."