Honor flight returns: To veterans, with love (with photos)

By Erika Mahoney

April 13, 2014 Updated Apr 13, 2014 at 12:21 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) When you're far from home, a handwritten letter can lift your spirits.

Mail is one way soldiers receive love and comfort when they're fighting overseas.

About 75 local veterans got another taste of that love and comfort after a journey that took them back in time.

The first Twin Tiers Honor Flight returned to Binghamton Saturday night. It took the veterans to Washington, D.C. for free to visit their war memorials.

The veterans returned to an outpouring of community support; hundreds packed the airport to welcome them back.

"It's heartwarming," Sylvia Berry, daughter of a WWII veteran, said. "We are all so proud of our veterans."

On the plane ride home, each received a bundle of letters to read. The action mimics "mail call," which is how soldiers receive letters when they're serving overseas.

The Greater Binghamton Airport collected more than 500 greetings and letters, some coming from as far as North Carolina.

The trip was made possible by Jeff Gural, the owner of Tioga Downs Casino in Nichols.