Honor Trip Flight With Big Reception

 

Driadonna Roland • Staff Writer • June 21, 2010

 

It was a patriotic Father's Day celebration Sunday at

the Greater Rochester International Airport, where

multiple generations of loved ones gathered with

flags, balloons, banners, cheers and even tears.

 

Their presence was a surprise for a group of about

55 World War II veterans returning home from the

nation's capital, thanks to the organization Honor

Flight Rochester.

 

Joe LoSapio's proud family was among the loudest

of the crowd. The sight of them made him

"overjoyed," he said. LoSapio, 84, threw up his arms

and kissed all of them, one by one.

 

They wore T-shirts bearing an image of him at just

19 years old, a handsome young soldier with the U.

S. Army Air Corps.

 

 

 

Like many of the other veterans in attendance,

LoSapio was still a kid when he was drafted. He only

finished high school thanks to a six-month

deferment, then was sent to the Philippines to

prepare to invade Japan.

 

Honor Flight Rochester is part of a national network

of hubs that pays tribute to World War II veterans by

sending them on an all-expense-paid trip to

Washington, D.C. There, they visit war memorials,

including Arlington National Cemetery and the

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 

LoSapio said the experience was amazing.

 

"The World War II Memorial was fantastic," he said.

 

"Every memorial had its own character, giving an

impression of that particular war."

 

Honor Flight Rochester President Vincent Hope said

that since the group's inception in 2008, 500

veterans have been able to make the journey. The

flights are funded entirely by donations from the community.

 

"This community has put tremendous wings under

us and lifted us in so many ways," Hope said.

 

On Sunday, Pine Brook Elementary School students

presented a check for $4,500 to Honor Flight

Rochester.

 

State Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, lauded the

veterans as the true heroes of our time.

 

"They're not athletes, they're not rock stars — they're

you."

 

For information on Honor Flight Rochester or to

donate, go to honorflightrochester.org.

 

DROLAND2@DemocratandChronicle.com

Publication date: 
Monday, June 21, 2010 - 00:00