Wounded Warriors, they are the men and women injured in Iraq and Afghanistan while fighting for our country. This week, our community is honoring 52 heroes and their families.
News 13 was at the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport when four men and their wives arrived for the Wounded Warriors Beach Retreat in Panama City Beach.
Sergeant Timothy Payne and his wife Katherine arrived around lunchtime to a crowd of some of their biggest supporters.
"I wasn't expecting all this, but its great," said Sgt. Payne. "I really appreciate it."
It was a hero's welcome. Dozens of supporters, dressed in red, white, and blue, rolled out the red carpet to welcome the men. With each arrival, they all cheered and applauded, shared hugs and stories, and thanked the warriors for their service.
"These warriors love coming to our area," said Linda Cope. "The community just loves honoring them, which makes them feel appreciated so it makes it really special."
Linda Cope founded the Wounded Warriors Beach Retreat in late 2009 to honor those wounded overseas, like her son Joshua. He lost both of his legs above the knee in an IED blast in Iraq about 7 years ago.
The families will spend six days relaxing and experiencing the best of what the Panhandle has to offer. The men will get to do things like golf and fish, while the women are treated to a spa day.
Nearly every activity and meal are free. Hundreds of beach venues, attractions, and restaurants are all donating their services to the families. It's just one way to honor these heroes who have given so much.
"It means the world to me," said Payne. "So many people saying thanks for the sacrifices that me and other comrades all faced."
The public is invited to show its support on Thursday at 4:00. The Warriors will be escorted to the Opening Ceremonies with a police and motorcycle parade. That parade route can be found here.
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