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'84 Strong': Kentucky veterans finally receive welcome home celebration they didn't get years ago

The day is long and their itinerary is packed. These veterans are about to experience one of the most emotional rollercoasters of a day they've had in decades.

Brooke Hasch, Jessica Farley

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Published: 4:19 PM EDT May 25, 2023
Updated: 1:48 PM EDT June 30, 2023

It's 5 a.m. on a Wednesday morning. Despite the hour, hundreds of people are packed into Muhammad Ali International Airport. 

Hit songs from the Andrews Sisters like Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Oh, Johnny fill the waiting area ahead of the TSA checkpoint. 

It's not a recording, but rather a live performance by the Ladies for Liberty, igniting the spirit of patriotism reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s. 

A man, sporting a Vietnam War Veteran cap, is the first to be serenaded by the trio. He won't be the last. The excitement and the energy is palpable.

He's one of 84 local veterans, including two women, from Vietnam, Korea and World War II preparing for a trip of a lifetime with Honor Flight Bluegrass.


In just a few hours, they'll be transported back in time, unlocking fond memories they'd forgotten and others they'd like to forget.

The day is long. The itinerary is packed. But the adrenaline and a rollercoaster of emotions will keep them going until the day's end.

It's 7 o'clock - time to board an American Airlines flight to Washington D.C. 

The veterans make their way toward the gate, each accompanied by a guardian, whom they may know or have just met. 

One of my favorite moments so far! Our only WWII Veteran Richard Gay said, forget the wheelchair! It's time to dance! He's one of 84 vets on today's Honor Flight Bluegrass #LadiesForLiberty

Posted by Brooke Hasch WHAS 11 on Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Cheers and applause from the Honor Flight's ground crew and airport guests send them off on what's about to be a picture-perfect day.

It's the same reception on the plane. The pilot, too, is a veteran of the Marine Corps, making his appreciation known for all the precious cargo on this flight. 

"We hope you enjoy your time in our nation's capital," he says over the intercom.

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