DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Ed Snoddy had his share of uncertain destinations during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
“I had no idea what I was going to walk in to.”
Yet this retired Senior Master Sergeant isn’t talking about enemy fire but rather something that for decades was unknown to him.
“This is the thanks they never got,” says Al Bailey, President of Honor Flight Dayton, “Waiting 50 years to be thanked for their service.”
When Snoddy and his fellow vets came home from war, they were, at best, ignored or forgotten, far from a hero’s welcome.
Bailey, a Vietnam War veteran himself, says that changed in 2005. That’s when Earl Morris rallied local pilots to take twelve World War II veterans, free of charge, to Washington.
According to Bailey, “Those vets came back and were extremely happy to be able to see their memorial, so what do they do? They tell their buddies what a great trip this was, so they asked, ‘How do I get signed up?'”
With that, Honor Flight was born. It now spans 43 states and 140 hubs. Thousands of veterans have since made what is a personal trip, which includes a hero’s welcome in Washington and a favorite on the flight back home, mail call.
Bailey recalls a poignant moment several years ago. “This one Marine, when he opens his mail, he’s in tears. He says, ‘Could you help me read this?’ It starts off, ‘Dear, dad. I know we haven’t talked in 15-years, but I want you to know, you have always been my hero.'”
After an already emotional day, one final tug of the heart after touchdown in Dayton; a final and deserved “thank you.”
“To see my wife and grandchildren. It shakes you up,” says an emotional Snoddy. “You want to be strong, and yet there are tears coming down out of your eyes, right.”
Bailey says Honor Flight Dayton also sends two RV caravans a year to Washington, specifically for those veterans who, for one reason or another, can not or do not want to fly. To find out more information about the next Honor Flight or RV caravan, go to www.honorflightdayton.org.Grab the FREE WDTN News App from the Apple Store or Google play. Stay up to date with all the local news, weather and sports as well as live newscasts and events as they happen.