Cheering crowds greet veterans in Fresno as they return from Central Valley Honor Flight

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sixty-six Central Valley Honor Flight veterans returned home Wednesday to a hero's welcome as hundreds of people packed the Fresno Yosemite International Airport to greet them after a two-day stay in Washington D.C.

The plane was about 30 minutes late but the veterans came out all smiles after spending a couple days away in the nation's capital.

Not a person in sight at the airport wasn't cheerful or patriotic when the World War II and Korean War veterans made it back from Washington.

The warm welcome home celebration was for our local veterans who traveled across the country to our nation's capital to view monuments built in their honor.

"I suspected 24 to 25 people out there," Korean War veteran Edward Pestana exclaimed. "But, geez, this is overwhelming."

Veteran Wayne Locher says the trip at times was emotional.

"The Korean Memorial, it made me make tears in my eyes," he said. "I had it made, a lot of them didn't."

But it was also enjoyable.

"You see it sometimes on TV but until you see it in person there is nothing like it," Terry Passons-Conley, who's married to a veteran, said.

The veterans toured memorials like the Arlington Cemetery and the World War II Memorial.

Passons-Conley says her husband called her both days to talk about the experience.

"He says the memorials were a little sad and I'm sure it put a lump in his throat," she said.

Robert Thoman experienced those touchy moments too, but he says despite the sadness that came there was something special about being there.

"It's just inspiring, I say you can't imagine," he said. "Everything just went so smooth."

And there's something anyone, even those that didn't go, can take away from it.

"What I am proud of the whole thing is it makes the people here appreciate the ones who are serving now," Thoman said.
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