HOUSTON Hundreds of people gathered at Bush Intercontinental Airport on Friday to welcome more than 200 wounded veterans to Houston.
The veterans, many of them in wheelchairs or on crutches, passed through a cordon of cheering civilians waving flags and yelling their thanks. Some people in the crowd stepped out to shake the veterans hands or hug them and welcome them to Texas.
Awesome, said one of the veterans. God bless Texas.
Theveterans were clearlymovedby the show of support.
Oh my God, it is so overwhelming, said Leslie Richardson, an Army veteran rolling through the airport in a wheelchair. I just love the people here in the great state of Texas.
The event, organized by HPD and the United Service Organization, was held to kick off the beginning of the fifth annual Warrior Weekend. The project honors Army and Marine veterans who have sustained life-changing injuries during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We get a chance to wrap our arms around the military and our wounded warriors and tell them how much we support them, for they are our brothers in arms and sisters in arms, said Cpt. Greg Fremin with HPD. This is just Houston, but this is how we do things in this great city.
Some of the people who gathered at the airport showed up early in the morning, waiting more than three hours for the veterans arrival. Manywere mothers of military personnel volunteering with MomsUSA, a support group for servicemen and women.
Others, like Pastor Arthur Craig of the Woodhaven Baptist Deaf Church, had lost loved ones in combat.
Our son was killed in Afghanistan several years ago, Craig said. And we just wanted to come and show our support for these guys, for America.
Over the next couple of days the veterans will be treated to Texas hospitality. On Saturday, volunteers are whipping up a fish fry for the veterans and taking them out on the Gulf of Mexico for a fishing expedition.
In the morning they re going to see 200 boats sitting on the water with volunteers that are opening their hearts to show these soldiers a really good time on the water, said volunteer Sherry Kocian.