BY LAURA D DICKINSON at The Tribune (Article Link Below)
The Central Coast Honor Flight returned to San Luis Obispo Regional County Airport on Wednesday night to a raucous, cheering crowd of volunteers, family and friends. The group takes San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County veterans on all-expenses paid trips to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials that honor their military service. This flight, which left Monday morning, included 24 veterans: one who served in World War II, 13 from Korea (including a female U.S. Army veteran), and 10 from Vietnam.
While in Washington, they visited the World War II, Korean, Vietnam War memorials, along with Arlington Cemetery, where they watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “Every time we welcome these guys home, it’s just amazing to see all the people that come out from the community,” said Bear McGill, chairperson of Honor Flight Central Coast.
“They are just thankful to have these veterans that have served our country and gave us our freedoms. They just want to come out and recognize them,” he said. “It’s just amazing to see these vets come off that plane and have this terminal full of people, and just hollering and screaming and welcoming them home.”
Honor Flight is open to any veteran who has served our country, McGill said.
“This is just something to give back to them, to let them know that they’re appreciated for what they’ve done for our country,” McGill said. The next Honor Flight will take place in April. It will be chartered by Allegiant Airlines and fly out of Santa Maria. McGill said the change will allow them to get more veterans and their guardians on the flights, and Santa Maria is a more central location for all Central Coast veterans. Cheryl Tolan, co-founder of Welcome Home Military Heroes, attends the Honor Flight’s homecomings to organize and lead the cheering crowd. “We get so exited for today, to welcome home (these) veterans!” Tolan said. “The freedoms we enjoy today is because of their sacrifice to our country.”