George Anthos had a confession shortly after taking his trip with Honor Flight Chicago to Washington, D.C.
“I never thought I would see the day Korean War vets would get the recognition they deserve,” said Anthos, a former heavy weapons squad leader during the Korean War. “I’ve never shook so many hands, been hugged everywhere I went and even kissed on the cheek a few times.
“It was a wonderful day in D.C. I loved it.”
Anthos admitted to being emotionally overwhelmed by parts of the experience. “At my old age,” he said, “I’ve become more emotional. Visiting the Korean and Vietnam memorials really hit me hard.”
One highlight of the day was meeting retired General Colin Powell and shaking his hand. Powell is one of Anthos’ personal heroes. Another highlight was the constant attention from his Guardian — a woman named Valerie.“She was lots of fun, smart, and held my hand most of the time, which made me feel like I was back in high school with my best gal,” Anthos said.
As enjoyable as those moments were, nothing could top the Welcome Home celebration.
“It was the most mind-blowing and wonderful experience that every vet should have,” he said. “People I’ve never even met wanted to shake my hand and take pictures with me. My family visited me with signs and banners. It was unreal, like a Jimmy Stewart movie.”
Reflecting on the experience, it’s still hard for Anthos to not get emotional. “There are no words in the dictionary to describe that day,” he said. “It was a day of honor that I will never forget.”
“It was the most mind-blowing and wonderful experience that every vet should have. People I’ve never even met wanted to shake my hand and take pictures with me.”