It’s never too late to thank a Veteran for the sacrifices they made.
A real hero’s welcome is given by the Patriot Pin Ups to the countries true heroes when U.S Veterans return to the airport after their Honor Flight. A group of women dressed as vintage pin-up models gather with signs and endless amounts of hugs and smiles to greet those who served in World War II, Korean, or the Vietnam War at the Dayton International Airport.
It’s never too late to thank a Veteran for the sacrifices they made and for Tricia Clark, the founder of Dayton’s chapter of the Patriot Pin Ups, the smiles she sees gives her an unmeasurable amount of joy. “When they came home from the war’s there was nobody there to welcome them home. We want the Veterans to know how much they are loved and appreciated,” said Clark.
Started in June of 2014, the Dayton Chapter of Patriot Pin-Ups currently has about 22 members. They begin to gather at the airport at 11 p.m. to await the return of the Honor Flight. Once all the departed passengers have been gathered a trio of the Patriot Pin Ups; Ruby Randall, Sharon Hultberg, and Kimberly Lattrell-Parks, sings a spirited rendition of the National Anthem. Everyone then disperses to talk to one another and have their picture taken with the Patriot Pin Ups. The Honor Flight is an all-expenses paid trips for qualified Veterans to Washington D.C to visit the memorials.
A 501 (C) 3 non-profit organization, the Patriot Pin Ups do much more than the Honor Flight greetings, but works tirelessly to see that every Veteran, and service member, will be honored and showed that their service is appreciated. The women send care packages to the troops overseas, raise funds for Dogs 4 Warriors, and visit VA hospitals. The Pin Ups also bring baked goods and visit Veterans who are homebound or in a nursing home.
In their effort to reach as many souls as possible, the Patriot Pin Ups sell their own handmade items that support other local charities that benefit the Veterans. “We have a talented group of ladies who make hair flowers, homemade soaps and other stuff that we sell and donate the proceeds to other causes,” said Clark.
Both of Clark’s grandparents served in World War II and her father in Vietnam, so to recognize the Veterans in personally meaningful to Clark. She gains almost as much from greeting the Veterans as they do from getting such a warm reception. “It’s so rewarding and fulfilling to see their expressions. We all really pull together to make the Honor Flights special,” she said.
The same sentiments are shared by Ruby Randall. “I am honored to be able to give back to our nation’s greatest generation in any way I am able to. My entire life’s work in general has been dedicated to holding on to the sentiments and nostalgia of bygone times I hold so dear, and to take part in something that visibly brings joy to a Veteran’s face, to be able to recognize them for their sacrifices, sing for them, hug the necks of our Heroes, and to tell them ‘Thank You’ in person…That is a greater gift to us than to them.”
To learn more the Patriot Pin Ups of Dayton can be found on Facebook or at patriotpinup.com.
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.