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
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
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
For information on Honor Flight Rochester or to
donate, go to honorflightrochester.org.