It was a hero’s welcome as the 9th mission of the U.P. Honor Flight returned to the U.P. tonight, landing in Escanaba.

An enthusiastic crowd greeted a plane full of veterans at the Delta County Airport on their return from a one-day whirlwind trip to Washington D.C.

Susan Beranek, a board member of the Upper Peninsula Honor Flight, said, “When you start talking to these veterans and realize that they fought for us, to have the freedoms that we have, and a lot of them laid down their lives for us. Mothers lost multiple children in the wars. There is so much good going on in this world, and we need to recognize it and to stand up and to thank the people that have provided us with all these freedoms.”

The trip is free to World War II and Korean War veterans, thanks to the Upper Peninsula Honor Flight, a local hub of the non-profit national honor flight network.

The U.P. chapter has transported hundreds of veterans to the nation’s capital to see the memorials that stand in their honor.

Charles Smith is a Korean War veteran, and said, “It’s hard to believe that this is such an overwhelming welcoming. When I came back from the real war in 1952, there were no planes, no nothing, nobody to greet me. I just came home late at night, got off the train and walked home, and that was it. Now this is 60 years later and it’s overwhelming.”

The honor flight is about showing that long overdue appreciation to these men and women who bravely served during World War II and the Korean War. The trip included meals, a tour of Washington, D.C. And much more.