Honor Flight vets return home

Published 8:30 pm Monday, September 24, 2012

Honor Flight participants John Shiver, Jr. and Ben Cooper arrive home in Mobile.

Local World War II veterans John Shiver, Jr. and Ben Cooper were among the men who participated in Honor Flight VIII Wednesday, Sept.19. Both men took part in the annual venture, allowing them to visit the World War II Monument in Washington D.C.

Shiver said the most impressive part of the trip was the welcome home they received at Mobile Airport.  Both men said they were impressed by all the young families and small children that thanked them for their service to their country, shook their hands or hugged them and gave them miniature American flags.

The welcome home the veterans received when they returned to Mobile was extraordinary to say the least, Cooper and Shiver agreed.

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Linda Gates, president of the Ladies Auxiliary, unit 90, said both men seemed humbled by their reception.

“The looks on the faces of the veterans when they came down the steps or when the elevator doors opened and they saw all the flags waving in the hands of the very young to the very old, heard everyone cheering for them while the band played patriotic music was the most heartwarming thing in the world,” Gates said. “They appeared awe struck at first but then the smiles began and they waved until it looked like their arms would fall off.  The more the crowd cheered the bigger the smiles and the harder they waved.”

On hand to welcome back Shiver and Cooper were Gates, her husband, Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Billy Gates and VFW Chaplin Glenn Wardrop, along with Cooper’s son Ken, daughter-in-law Dawn and granddaughter Courtney.

This most recent Honor Flight was the largest to date and was scheduled to be the last flight from the south Alabama area, however an overwhelming amount of interest on the part of other WWII veterans has sparked another flight, scheduled for May of 2013.