75 Tampa Bay area veterans return from Honor Flight trip

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – It was their moment to shine, their night to be honored and celebrated. You could see it through the tears welling in their eyes.

This was pure joy and raw emotion

As they flew home after a long day, their tender hearts were met with open arms.

Their expressions said it all: pride, patriotism and love of country.

Tuesday night, 75 veterans came home, and when they did, they were greeted with a beautiful, endless receiving line that snaked through the halls of the St. Petersburg – Clearwater International.

From one end to the other, it was all heart.

Parents, children, grandchildren and fellow service members beamed with pride as veterans from an Honor Flight landed Tuesday night after a day in Washington D.C.

The men and women on board the flight served in all branches, all duties, all ranks, from World War II, to Vietnam to the Korean War.

For Navy veteran Bernard Mondor, who inlisted at 19-years-old, this moment carried with it a special surprise.

Unbeknownst to him, his bride of 67 years was waiting patiently on the other side of the airport. She smiled and waved a tiny American flag. She carried with her a picture of her beloved as a teenager, his enlistment photo. Flanked protectively around her were her children and grandchildren, including a newborn.

When Bernard saw those he loved most, waving flags and smiling, and his eyes filled with tears.

“I don’t have the words for it I just, I just can’t believe it happened to me. I’m just a normal person,” he told News Channel 8.

For this Navy veteran, the crowds, the love, the honor rendered him speechless – moved beyond words.

“I’m so overwhelmed, I don’t know what to say. I’m just so happy.”

For Rose Munchbach, a nurse who served in the army, the same sweeping emotions he gripped her as well.  She cried as she shared her story.

“I was in Vietnam in 1965, and when I came home in ’66, it wasn’t the same at all,” she told us. “It’s just so emotional.”

It was certainly a night to remember for the members of this Honor Flight, a organization with loving volunteers who work tirelessly to escort veterans to the nations capital five times a year.

For Bernard, perhaps his greatest moment of joy came from a smooch bestowed upon him by his loving wife. After all, an evening like this deserves to be sealed with a kiss.


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