Here are some pictures from Stewart International Airport in Newburgh as Post 386 went to welcome our Veterans home, one of which was our own Jim Formato, Public Affairs Officer of our Post. And read his letter describing his experience on this emotional day.
And here’s Jim’s letter to the members.
Words cannot describe the gratitude I hold in my heart for your presence at the return of Hudson Valley Honor Flight Mission 21 (a.k.a. Black Jack). My day was filled with many tears as I recalled the men and women who served and sacrificed during WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Gulf Wars and Kosovo. I thought of my father and father-in-law who both served in WWII. I thought of a very dear and close friend who fought in the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in Korea. I broke down once again at the Vietnam War Memorial as I finally reached closure on the deaths of close friends, fellow athletes and high school classmates.
I carried a guilt for almost 50 years for not being able to achieve my personal goals of obtaining a commission and flying helicopters so that I could go to Vietnam and avenge their deaths. But, this trip removed that guilt as I felt them all whisper “…you didn’t have to avenge us, we are happy and at eternal rest”. The same holds true for the anger I kept deep within my heart for being spit in the face because I was a soldier in uniform at a Memorial Day Parade in Beacon. I was never sorry for myself, rather the anger was for those who didn’t come back, for those who came back injured and for those who came back to nothing but aggravation and grief for serving their country. That was all erased with the treatment I received for being a Vietnam Veteran, not a combat veteran, but as I was constantly told, “you didn’t have to be in combat, just enlisting in the service during this era enabled me to be a Vietnam Veteran”. For this I truly thank and praise God!
Finally, just seeing all of you, giving me a salute as I passed by, was one of the best experiences of my day. I realized you were there and doing this for me. As I write this note I am tearing up once again with that thought. I never expect nor do I ask for recognition but YOU gave it to me! I consider you Family, and to those who know me I do not take that lightly. Again, thank you for being there!
God bless you, the CWV and most especially, the USA!
Thank YOU, Jim! And once again, “Welcome Home”
Our Post decided to go to Stewart International Airport to honor and welcome home our Veterans returning from the latest mission of the Hudson Valley Honor Flight. The Honor Flight is a non-profit organization which honors American Veterans for all their sacrifices. They transport these heroes to Washington DC to visit their memorials at no cost to them.
If you’re interested or know someone who’s interested in signing someone up for the Honor Flight, or would like to participate as a Guardian, or would like to help, please visit their website at http://hvhonorflight.com/how-to-participate/
A Thank You Letter to Post 386
A few days after we welcomed home our fellow Veterans on this Honor Flight, we received the following letter from one of the guardians:
To all members of Post 386,
I was a Guardian for Bill Matthews, a 91 year old Army Veteran of World War II on Honor Flight Mission #1000 on Sept. 10, 2016. It was an unbelievably great day. Starting at 6 AM and seeing you at about 9:30 that night. I thought I had seen it all from send off at Stewart to arrival at Washington DC and arrival at Stewart. For me, seeing you all at the end of the welcoming line in your dress uniforms, at attention and saluting Bill was fantastic. It remains in my mind as one of the most gratifying moments of the day. I see your Post 386 in the paper a lot. You do a great job. I am former Air Force and Adjutant for American Legion Post 486 in Matamoras, PA 18336.
Again, Thank You.
For God & Country,
Francis “Butch” Lemon
Adj. Post 486