U.S. Army veteran Andy Mitten was a participant in the second Clinton County Honor Flight this past weekend. He has been the fire chief of the Harlan Twp. Fire & Rescue in Warren County for 51 years and has served as manager of fire & safety and fire chief of Kings Island for 20 years.
I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful the entire Honor Flight experience was this past weekend.
From the reception and meal at the American Legion in Wilmington to the ceremony at the veterans’ memorial to honor our veterans, most of whom were from Clinton County.
Then there was the bus trip, escorted by several police motorcycles and squad cars (through pouring rain) to Dayton. After a few hours’ rest, we got another police escort to the Dayton airport at 0300 (3 a.m.).
The plane took off for Washington, D.C. with three World War II veterans, several Korean War vets and the remaining were Vietnam Era vets, along with our guardians.
We received a welcome on the tarmac in Washington with fire trucks shooting water over the airplane.
As vets deplaned, a band played welcome music and the crowd waved banners and signs. It was perfect weather in Washington all day.
Our first stop was Arlington National Cemetery including time to see the changing of the guard, followed by:
• Iwo Jima Memorial
• Air Force Memorial
• Vietnam Memorials and Wall
• Korean War Memorial
• Lincoln Memorial
• World War II Memorial
Afterwards there was a dinner at a buffet, then the flight back to Dayton.
Upon arrival in Dayton, veterans were met by over a thousand well-wishers, including a large group of military soldiers and airmen, families and kids with posters, welcome signs, waving American flags, a large band playing patriotic songs and several women dressed in World War II outfits.
They were all cheering and clapping to the veterans, including 36 veterans in wheelchairs.
It was an unbelievable reception which brought tears to many of the veteran’s eyes.
And a truly patriotic, once-in-a-lifetime experience for all.