Heroes return home: Community gathers at FYI to welcome back 19th Central Valley Honor Flight

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The crowd erupted, holding signs and waving flags to give more than 60 veterans the homecoming they never got decades ago.

"It's very emotional," said veteran Leon Lucas. "I wasn't expecting all this...the whole trip was extraordinary."

The 19th Central Valley Honor Flight returned home from Washington D.C. on Wednesday.

This year, the trip was made up of only Vietnam veterans.

Leon Lucas was stunned when he arrived and said the perfect end to his trip was seeing his wife, Sharon waiting for him at the terminal.

"It's so amazing that people came to honor what they did for this country," Sharon Lucas said.

Veterans traveled to see the nation's monuments and war memorials, at one point touching the names of fallen veterans at the Vietnam war memorial.

For some, the emotion of it all was overwhelming.

"It was just very nice," said Tony Heredia.

For others, it's the people that made the trip.

"The shared experience with other veterans, not just Navy like myself, Air Force...but Marines, Army," said Lynwood Draugh.

Folks lined the Fresno Yosemite International Airport lobby for hours to welcome them home. Veterans wiped tears as they shook hands, and smiled.

A welcome long overdue, "Coming down the line tonight...I think it finally healed a wound of the experience," Draugh said.
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