Honor Flight: Vets 'Can't Get Over' Homecoming at Mitchell

CREATED May 20, 2011

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MILWAUKEE - After a full day of seeing their memorial in Washington and sharing their stories, the crowds were ready and waiting at Mitchell International to welcome our World War II veterans home this past weekend.

Our 125 WWII vets walked off the plane to see current service members waiting to shake their hands.

As they funneled through a line they saw a color guard to the left and bag pipers to the right.

The veterans passed through a hallway to the main concourse, and the crowd erupted.

Related audio:
Click here to listen to Newsradio 620 WTMJ's  Jodi Becker review the Saturday night homecoming for the latest Honor Flight

Honor Flight Story Archive:
Wife's Love Story at Vet's Grave
Raw Video: 10th Honor Flight Goes To DC

Honor Flight Audio Archive:
The Volunteers' Special Stories
WWII Vet's Surprise Visit
George Collura's Story

Related link:
Stars and Stripes Honor Flight

So did the emotions.

"I can't get over it," said Bill Lang through tears.  "Just for me."

"I'm speechless.  I can't say a word.  I can't talk," exclaimed Irvin Matthews.

"This is great.  I'm overwhelmed," said another WWII veteran.

Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Jodi Becker noticed that George, another vet, was going toward the pretty girls in the crowd.

"There's nothing wrong with that.  They're all like my daughter," he quipped.

One by one, waiting families and friends spotted their vets.

It was time to give them what they believed was a proper home coming.

"He's our father," said the daughter of Ray Ladwig.

"I think I am (shocked)," explained Ray.

"My cutie pie, my sailor boy," said the sign made by Ray's wife's Valerie.

They have been married 62 years.

Even as they were near the parking garage, the claps kept coming.  No one wanted to leave until each vet not just felt, but KNEW how appreciated they were.

"They took the time for us.  This is a little bit we can do for them."

"We love grandpa!  Go Grandpa!" screamed a little girl at the homecoming.

"We never had this when we got home in the 40's," explained one veteran.

They did this time.