All 21 Veterans and 13 Guardians met at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Ontario the afternoon of June 22, 2017. This Meet & Greet was the first time they met and the bonding was instant. As arrivals entered the lobby, the introductions and joking became the standard.
The Veterans served in WWII, Korea, Viet Nam & the Multipurpose Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon. The Guardians all volunteered, trained and paid to escort the Veterans and see to their every need. The training alerts them to the areas of the tour that could be an issue for these Heroes. Half of the Guardians were returnees and the other half were new to the program. All were enthusiastic about being involved with this flight and being able to witness ‘living history’ tour Washington, DC Memorials for an entire day.
Although this is a whirlwind trip, all of the Veterans were excited to get the call that the application they had filled out years ago was finally being processed. They were up for the challenge of going on their ‘trip of a lifetime’ with other Veterans. One Veteran was also accompanied by his Service Dog, and everyone fell in love with Caleb.
HONOR FLIGHT – INLAND EMPIRE would like to thank the combined support of: Double Tree by Hilton/Ontario; the Patriot Guard Riders; Ontario Airport Administration, Ticket Agents, Porters, TSA, Southwest Airlines & Carl’s Jr. for making this another successful adventure.
The return of this flight is June 25, 2017, Southwest Airlines Terminal 4; 1:20pm. Photo opportunities will be in the Baggage Area. Unknown to the Veterans, they will receive a Care Box from Opportunity Gratitude, that is carefully packaged by volunteers for Military Service Personnel around the world. This will be the final surprise for these Veterans after 2-1/2 days of constant acknowledgement of their Service by total strangers. The emotions of this weekend will be carried over for many months to come.