WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- On Saturday morning, my wife and I drove to Westchester County Airport.
We were not going anywhere ourselves but wanted to watch a special group of military veterans be honored and then board a plane to Washington where they were to spend the day visiting the World War II Memorials. Hudson Valley Honor Flight organized the ceremony and visit to the capital. This was their sixth flight and the first from Westchester as Stewart Airport was used for the previous five excursions in transporting these veterans and family members at no cost to them. Escorting the 75 men and women of the Greatest Generation onto the airport grounds was a contingent of motorcycle cops from several jurisdictions along with three biker clubs from as far away as Albany. There were several politicians awaiting the guests of honor, including Rep. Nita Lowey, Terrence Murphy, who is running for State Assembly, and County Executive Rob Astorino, Westchester, who is running for Governor. “We are witnessing these heroes receive a flight of a lifetime.” Astorino said. “They made a tremendous sacrifice during a difficult time of our nation’s history. They all deserve to be treated like royalty,” he added. All branches of military service were represented by the Veterans, which included three women, two who served in the Women Army Corps, and the third from the Naval Women’s Reserve. Several Veterans were at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941. Most of the Army Veterans in attendance served in North Africa, Sicily, and took part in the Normandy landings. At least a dozen others were in the Army Air Corps and flew missions over Nazi occupied Europe prior to the War’s end in 1945. Bringing up the rear during the introductions were many former Marines. During the opening ceremony, they were asked kindly to refrain from illegal card games during the flight. One Veteran with whom I spoke identified himself as Joe from Hartsdale and said he served in the Third Army. I was honored to shake his hand as my appreciation for his service became extremely personal. It was the Third Army that liberated Buchenwald concentration camp where members of my family had died only a few months earlier. Hudson Valley Honor Flight is planning additional events in the near future. For more information, call (845) 391-0076 or visit http://www.hvhonorflight.com
Laurance Baschkin is a Pound Ridge resident.
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