STEWART AIRPORT – When Ralph Rogers, a Marine veteran from New Windsor, came home from Vietnam, the nation was not ready to honor service members’ sacrifice from that divisive conflict.
Saturday, Rogers was one of 81 veterans who were flown to Washington D.C. on a Hudson Valley Honor Flight, so they could visit the memorials honoring their service.
“It means everything to me. I spent my time in Vietnam, came back, and you know the history of that,” he said. “And I just couldn’t believe the honor (today) we got with all the people that came out to wish us well. It’s just a special day.”
This was the 25th flight during the 10 years the program has been flying vets to the nation’s capital and the first since Oct. 2019.
The vets took off following a ceremony in the terminal of New York Stewart International Airport early Saturday morning, a farewell that praised them for their service.
Larry Lander, a Korean War Air Force vet from Connecticut, was onboard that flight after his four-year tour in Iceland ended in 1956.
“I totally appreciate this,” he said. “It just makes my service that much more meaningful. Coming down here, I don’t think there was a dry eye on that bus. And it’s just an amazing, amazing honor us. It really is.”