As they waited for the veterans from around the country to land at Terminal C at Bush Intercontinental Airport, hundreds of supporters listened to the heart-warming patriotic songs of barbershop singers.
The servicemen and women are headed to an all-expense-paid deep-sea fishing trip, courtesy of the Wounded Warriors Project. It’s a veterans’ service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of the military actions following the events of 9/11.
Supporter Kim Parker says being part of the welcome was her way of showing her appreciation.
“They give their lives for us each and every day, and we just need to show support that they give us freedom each and every day,” she said. “And we appreciate them.”
Former serviceman Patrick Mortell was part of the welcome.
“I’ve been deployed six times during my period, and I’ve seen all different types of receptions. And to see something like this is just, I’ll be honest with you, I’m pretty overwhelmed right now. A lot of guys coming back, this is their first real introduction back to reality, and this is pretty emotional,” he said.
He says he identifies with the returning soldiers who were hurt during deployment.
“Being a wounded warrior myself, you know, coming back, I didn’t have this sort of reception,” he said. “What I am extremely impressed with all the people here is the resolve, after all of these years, that we still have focus as a community to continue the support. That’s the part that’s humbling to me.”
Arriving to waving flags, flashing signs and ringing bells, these soldiers said they were overwhelmed by the rousing ovation.
“…It means a lot, honestly.”
“…Oh, I’m overwhelmed, it’s wonderful, it really is.”
“…Great! It’s a little overwhelming but it’s great to see the appreciation.”
Angie McCracken enlisted in the service after high school. She says being part of the welcome really tugged at her heart.
“I love America, I love my country. Things like this, it just makes you honored to be part of a country that actually, and a place that actually cares about you,” she said.
Charter buses took the heroes to Port O’Connor for a weekend of deep-sea fishing, organized by the Wounded Warriors Project.