Tampa Bay veterans take off in honor flight

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) -- 90-year-old Romeo Bonnette remembers what it was like for the troops coming home from the Vietnam War. He's glad that Tuesday will be nothing like that. He's just one of more than 80 Bay Area Veterans taking part in an Honor Flight through the West Central Florida Division.

"There's no words to say how much this means to me," Bonnette, a WWII Veteran, said. "It will really be a tremendous experience and an honor, a true honor flight."

The group left the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport at 6 a.m. Tuesday and will spend the day visiting monuments built for their service in Washington D.C. Veterans get the trip for free, because of community efforts. Every Veteran has a "Guardian" or someone assigned to look after him or her on the trip. Many vets don't know their guardians before flight day, but Lee Benjamin gets to share the trip with his son-in-law.

"It's a wonderful opportunity being a Veteran, seeing all the monuments, and having my son-in-law there with me," Benjamin said. "He volunteered and I had no idea he was even going until a few days ago. It will be exciting to have him with me. I can show him around."

Bonnette is hoping to run into some old buddies.

"I'm hoping I'll get to see someone from my division," Bonnette said. "Maybe I'll even see someone at the monument. It's just nice to see all these guys up and doing their things."

You can help welcome the veterans home tonight at PIE at 8:15 p.m. Organizers recommend wearing red, white, and blue and even bringing signs thanking the veterans.

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