Team McChord airmen honor WWII veterans

By Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez on May 4, 2017

More than 60 servicemembers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the local area honored veterans participating in the Puget Sound Honor Flight, April 24, at SeaTac Airport.

The veterans were welcomed home after returning from their trip to Washington, D.C. to see monuments built in their honor, such as the World War II Memorial.

The event is one of four done annually by the Puget Sound Honor Flight, a nonprofit organization founded to serve U.S. veterans. They pay all costs for the veterans to travel to Washington, D.C. and visit monuments while celebrating their service along the way.

"From previous flights I've done, what I hear from veterans is that in past wars they were not received very well, and this is them getting the recognition now they didn't get then," said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Aguilar, active-duty liaison. "When some of these men and women come off the jetway, they stand up from their wheelchairs and you can see the pride in their faces."

Arriving at SeaTac Airport from Washington, D.C., the veterans were greeted by servicemembers with a salute and individually escorted through the airport.

"I think this is one of those events that junior military members get to connect what they are doing to a bigger picture of history," said Aguilar. "This is great for them to volunteer and get that connection to history. It's very significant."  

The 20 Puget Sound airmen that volunteered for the event spent more than an hour with veterans sharing their experiences serving.

"I'm very thankful to be here to honor them and show respect for what they did for our country," said Airman 1st Class Sara Vande Wetering, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron passenger service specialist. "I talk to a lot of veterans on a daily basis, and a lot of them say they don't feel recognized. I think this means a lot to them."

From the terminal, veterans were escorted to the airport atrium. As they went through the airport, applause could be heard from airport patrons and passengers. Many people stood in respect or shook their hands to thank them for their service.

"The veteran I escorted was very appreciative that we were able to welcome him home one last time," said Staff Sgt. Zachary Ely, 62nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsions specialist. "He was blown away by the welcome he received throughout the airport."

Arriving at the airport atrium, veterans were greeted again by hundreds of people applauding them, waving flags, and the sounds of bagpipes being played.

"I think the fact that the veterans could see current military members here honoring them meant a lot to them," said Ely. "It was great to show our tradition of remembering and honoring those who have served and come before us."

The next Puget Sound Honor Flight will take place May 22. To volunteer or find out more info, go to