MIAMI (WSVN) - World War II veterans from South South Florida received closure and a warm welcome home after a special trip to the nation’s capital.
Commonly nicknamed the “Greatest Generation,” these WWII veterans were given a gift that fit that name from Honor Flight South Florida: An all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C.
While at the capital, the veterans were able to see the memorial commemorating their service. One of the members of the trip, 90-year-old retired New York Police Department officer Carl Muscarello, now lives in South Florida.
A simple kiss on Aug. 14 in 1945 made the cover of LIFE magazine, which thrusted Muscarello into the spotlight. “It’s great that a lot of veterans come here to enjoy this,” he said. “It also brings back some memories about some of the guys that never came back.”
Muscarello is one of the dozens of servicemembers treated to a tour of the WWII, Korean and Iwo Jima memorials.
Back home at Miami-International Airport, the 90-year-old and another veteran, Burton Belenke, was greeted by Miami Dolphins cheerleaders and loved ones.
Belenke, was apart of the warm welcome home after his trip to D.C. “It’s hard to realize that they could organize this,” said Belenke. “The littlest detail could make you feel like you’re a hero.”
Belenke enlisted in the Navy at 17 years old and said he never expected to be seen as anybody’s hero at 90 years old. “Coming home — did you see that long line of people,” asked Belenke. “I couldn’t believe that. This was wonderful.”
The Honor Flight program has operated similar flights out of 130 U.S. cities since 2004, after the WWII memorial was created in Washington, D.C.
If you would like to donate to the program, follow this link: https://www.honorflight.org/
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