FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - A war veteran received a hero’s welcome at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Wednesday.
Airport officials rolled out the red carpet for 91-year-old Julian Syphax as he set off on a mission to Washington D.C.
“Thank you so much,” said Syphax. “I am honored. I am really and truthfully honored.”
Syphax is a World War II Navy veteran.
“Went in the Navy out of Ithica, New York, at 17 years old and wound up in Okinawa,” said Syphax.
“When he went to the military, it was a completely different story. It was very segregated,” said Syphax’s wife, Belle.
After the military, Syphax became one of the first African-American firefighters in The South, eventually becoming a lieutenant.
“It was bad times. It was a time that I know America is not very proud of,” said Syphax.
Syphax said he feels that America is returning to some of that bad behavior.
“I see us easing our way back to those times, and it absolutely frightens me for the short time I have left,” said Syphax.
Honor Flight made it possible for Syphax to get to Washington D.C., where he will meet with lawmakers.
“We wanted to do something special. It’s not really an Honor Flight operation — it’s a couple of concerned citizens that wanted to take him on a flight to Washington to be honored,” said Ryan Paton from Honor Flight South Florida.
One-by-one, complete strangers wanted to honor him.
“I’m overwhelmed. It’s wonderful,” said Syphax’s daughter, Gail. “He’s fought so hard, and he’s such an honorable man.”
“I’m the cousin to the fallen soldier Sgt. La David Johnson, and for me to have met him, someone that did come home, it was just truly an honor for me,” said Kim Jones, whose cousin was killed by ISIS fighters in Niger, Oct. 4.
When he arrives in Washington D.C., Syphax will get a private tour of the Pentagon, and he may even be visiting the White House.
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