Donald Brady of Berea met 67 other Kentucky veterans at Bluegrass Airport early on the morning of September 22, all participating in a one-day Honor Flight.
Honor Flight takes veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War on a one-day trip to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials erected to honor their service and sacrifices. Brady, a Vietnam veteran and member of Blue Grass Energy, represented the co-op which helped sponsor the all-expense paid trip.
Representing 34 Kentucky counties, the Honor Flight veterans included 11 from World War II, 24 from the Korean War and 33 from the Vietnam War.
Following an early-morning flight from Lexington, the group was greeted at Reagan Washington National Airport by a cheering crowd and a U.S. Military Academy chorus serenading them with patriotic songs. A police escort then guided the group’s buses to stops that included the Air Force Memorial, Women in Military Service for America Memorial and the Marine Corps War Memorial.
At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, the group watched the changing of the guard and participated in an emotional wreath-laying ceremony. The Honor Flight participants also visited memorials dedicated to the veterans of World War II, Korean and Vietnam Wars. Throughout the day, the veterans were greeted with smiles, photo requests and thanks for their service.
A homecoming reception, which Blue Grass Energy helped coordinate, capped off the jam-packed day of activities. Led by a bagpipe band, returning veterans paraded through the Lexington airport terminal as family and friends clapped and shouted welcomes, waved flags and shook hands to welcome their heroes.
“It was amazing,” said Brady, who was chosen to participate in the wreath-laying ceremony. “Arlington Cemetery was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.”
This was the eighth Honor Flight sponsored by Blue Grass Energy and Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. The mission was coordinated by Winchester-based Honor Flight Kentucky.