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Public is invited to welcome veterans home from Honor Flight

After a two-year hiatus caused by Covid-19 restrictions, HonorAir is back, and so is the tradition of the community turning out to welcome veterans home from their daylong visit to Washington, D.C.

Blue Ridge Honor Flight will host the welcome home celebration at Asheville Regional Airport beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 23. The community, family and friends are invited and encouraged to be present upon the return of World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans after their visit to their memorials in Washington, D.C.
“The welcome home for these veterans is one of the most memorable and moving parts of this whole trip,” Blue Ridge Honor Flight founder Jeff Miller said. “It means so much to them to have the welcome home they never got when they returned from the war, and it’s an amazing thing for bystanders to witness.”
Those wishing to attend the event are asked to park at Gate 7 of the WNC Agriculture Center on N.C. 280 or at the Advent Health parking lot on N.C. 280. Parking is free. A free shuttle will transport attendees to and from the airport for the event. Please note that there is no parking available in the regular airport parking lot.
Ninety-four veterans will be aboard the HonorAir flight, which has become popular with Vietnam veterans. Founded to honor World War II veterans, HonorAir has expanded to include all veterans and has seen the number of WWII veterans dwindle to just a few.
“I think we have four to six Korean War veterans, one World War II and the rest are Vietnam,” Miller said.
He said word gets around because in the close-knit network of Vietnam veterans, the men and women relish the change to tell their stories in an environment where they are not condemned the way they were when they came home in the 1960s and ’70s.
“It pretty much sells itself,” he said of the honor flights. “They were unfairly attacked when most of them were there because they got drafted. For the most part, they were just trying to protect each other and do what they were sent over there to do.”