Welcoming Home a Hero

On April 22, the Smith family welcomed Jack home from his Honor Flight at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. Jack served in the Air Force during the Korean War.

According to their website, the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight’s mission is to safely transport America’s most senior military veterans to Washington DC, to experience the memorials built in their honor.

The memorials Jack visited included the World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Lincoln Memorial. “We were treated like royalty,” Jack said. “We had a police escort every place we moved. It was pretty overwhelming actually. People pulled over on the side of the road for us. People would shake our hands. It was very emotional.”

What Jack didn’t know, while he was on his flight home, family and friends were gathering at the airport. “I didn’t expect that at all (to have family and friends waiting for his return),” Jack said. There were many people gathered to welcome their loved ones home – 17 were there for Jack. One of those 17 was Eric, Jack’s son who utilizes Community Living’s services. Eric was a bit out of his comfort zone and found the experience to be a little overwhelming, but nothing made him happier than when he saw his father.

As overwhelming as an experience it was for Jack, he says he remembers Eric telling him he was glad he was home. “I was so happy when I saw my dad,” Eric said. It was a proud moment for Eric to be a part of the welcoming committee, and realizes the trip meant a lot to his dad. For Jack, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and he was proud his family was a part of his special day.