CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Tampa Bay community is invited to the St.Pete-Clearwater Airport Tuesday night to welcome 66 veterans home from their Honor Flight to Washington D.C.

What You Need To Know

  • 66 veterans will be welcomed home from their Honor Flight to Washington D.C.

  • Residents who want to attend should arrive at St. Pete-Clearwater Airport by 7:30 p.m.

  • The veterans visited the five war memorials during their trip

  • More Pinellas County headlines

Attendees are asked to arrive at the airport around 7:30 p.m. and parking is free. Flags, signs and well wishes are all welcomed for their arrival.

Because of limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday's trip was the first Honor Flight put on by Honor Flight West Central Florida since October of 2019. Some veterans on Tuesday's flight were notified in 2018 that they had been chosen for the flight, but the pandemic caused years of delays.

During Tuesday's trip, 66 veterans from WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam took a chartered flight to Washington D.C. There, they were scheduled to visit five war memorials.

Honor Flight trips are provided at no cost to the veterans who take part.

The first post-pandemic trip has 11 WWII veterans aboard, including Robert Bouley, 98, who is the oldest veteran taking the trip. He said he wanted to visit the memorials to see if they bring back old memories.

"Maybe some ideas will probably come back into my mind," he said.

Daniel Summers, a Vietnam War veteran, lost a few close friends overseas. He said he planed to find their names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and take an impression.

"You never forget them," he said. "It was 50-something years ago and I think about them every day — every day they come to mind, it's something that happens. They stick with you, and if you keep them with you they're still alive."

Summers said coming home from the war wasn't a positive experience for him, which is something that has stuck with him.

"When we came home we weren't exactly welcomed," he said. "You don't forget that, you really don't."

The Honor Flight volunteers said they hope there's a crowd present to cheer for the veterans when they land and give them the welcome they deserve.