Volunteers welcome home America's heroes

July 29, 2009 5:18:10 AM PDT
We have seen them at airports greeting active duty military men and women with a hero's welcome. They carry flags and signs and provide a motorcycle escort. So who are these volunteers?

There are two organizations working in tandem: Warriors Watch and A Hero's Welcome. Their mission is to say "Thank You" and to give the often exhausted troops their first parade.

That's something Vietnam vets like Charlie Becker never had.

"That's the reason I'm in this organization," Becker told Action News. "To make sure that one group of veterans will never forget the current group of veterans coming home."

They have taken part in hundreds of welcomes in their relatively young existence. Maria Hyland's daughter Sharon started A Hero's Welcome in 2007 before joining the U.S. Marines herself.

"They're out in Iraq, Afghanistan, 130°, 140° weather, "coming down to the airport to say 'Thank you!' to them is the least we can do", Hyland said.

Wayne Lutz of Wyncote founded The Warriors Watch in May of 2008. It has since expanded into dozens of states and countries where American troops are stationed. He likes to say A Hero's Welcome provides the cheering and flags and his group provides the noise.

In a nation enamored with celebrities and heroes, both organizations say they want to draw attention to what they call the nation's real heroes and celebrities.

"We want the American people to know where our values are," Lutz said. "When they think about it and when they realize what we're doing, it actualy motivates people to want to go out and do the same thing."

The volunteers say there's nothing quite like the emotion of a "Welcome Home."