Smyth County

Marion residents welcome veterans home from Honor Flight trip

MARION, Va. - It's been a busy weekend for a group of veterans from our area who had the chance to go to Washington D.C. to see the war memorials.

The group returned to the Tri-Cities on Sunday night and had a warm welcome as they drove through Marion, Va.

Marion residents assembled to watch the Honor Flight bus come through on it's way back to Johnson City. The bus carried about 50 veterans and their family members.

"I think it's something that will be very heart warming for them, to let them know we're thinking about them," said Turk Johnson, the Marion VFW Post commander. "It's always great to honor our veterans, because of our veterans we're here."

The Honor Flight trip was about recognizing the heroes. There were 21 World War II and Korean War veterans on the bus to Washington D.C. They had the chance to see their memorials and visit Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

In addition to the tour, the veterans were thanked for their service by a group of students. They also had chance to meet former U.S. Senator Bob Dole.

"From all indications, they have had a blast," said Johnson. "They have really enjoyed their trip."

As they drove through Marion, on their way back home, the veterans were greeted by a crowd, waving flags.

"It's just so important to let them know how they helped change our lives and protect our freedoms," said resident Helen Heath Vernon. "The greatest generation, that's what that was."

Vernon knows first hand the sacrifices the soldiers made, her father was killed fighting in Europe in World War II. She told us she's glad these heroes were able to see their memorials, and know they haven't been forgotten.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to them because that way they know that America honors them and realizes just what price they paid for our freedom," Vernon said.

The Honor Flight trip carried veterans from across our region, including three from Smyth County.

The Honor Flight Network has transported more than 98,000 veterans to Washington D.C. since 2012, according to their website.

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