Honor Flight Philadelphia's first solo trip ended with a rousing reception at Anthony's Restaurant, 4990 State Road in Drexel Hill from their day in Washington D. C., April 14.
Greeting the three busloads of World War II veterans and their guardians were The Greater Overbrook String Band; Philadelphia Flyers cheerleaders; Swoop, who is the Philadelphia Eagles mascot; an arch made by fire company ladder trucks; honor guards from at least two different units; the Manhattan Dolls singers; and Congressman Pat Meehan.
There was hardly a dry eye among the veterans as they walked or were wheeled down a red carpet past a throng of flag wavers.
"It was a memorable day for me, said Myer Kurgan, a 95-year-old Army veteran from Delaware Valley Veterans Home in Philadelphia. "It was very thoughtful."
Kurgan served 38 months in Europe during the war.
"I started to feel good again," said William Wilson, also of Delaware Valley Veterans Home. "I wouldn't give it up."
Wilson,87, was a Marine Aviation gunner who served in the South Pacific. "We did a lot of damage," he said.
Honor Flight is a national non-profit organization founded in 2005 to give aging or terminally ill veterans a day of honor in Washington D.C.
There is no cost to the veterans.
The Philadelphia hub was started by Springfield resident Andrew Schiavello, who last June had seen a feature about the national group on Fox News that piqued his interest.
"I called (Honor Flight) about it," he said. "There wasn't a hub in Pennsylvania and they had been trying for six years."
He decided to start a Philadelphia hub.
"How can a city this big not have a hub when little towns across the country have them," he said.