Honor Flight for Veterans
~ By Ann Brandt ~
The idea of flying veterans to Washington DC was conceived with the idea of honoring the diminishing supply of World War II veterans. In May 2005, twelve veterans were flown to DC to view their newly built memorial. By the end of 2006 300 Veterans were flown from Ashville, NC to DC. Today the Honor Flight network includes chapters in southern and northern Colorado, with an organization run entirely by volunteers. This two-day event has now expanded to include those who served in the Korean War and in Vietnam. WWII vets are given top priority in registration for the event.
The Northern Colorado Honor Flight begins with a send-off ceremony at a local hotel. An Honor Guard presents the colors, there are speeches and patriotic musicÑall very stirring for both the veterans and the loved ones who have come to see them off. During the get acquainted time of coffee and light breakfast, each veteran meets his or her guardian, a volunteer who has been chosen and matched. Wheelchairs are provided for those whose mobility is limited.
When it’s time to board the buses, veterans and their guardians are assigned a color matching the assigned bus. Active military stand by to salute the caravan as it pulls away with a motorcycle escort to DIA where a special plane takes everyone to Washington DC for two days of remembrance, celebration and recognition of the veterans’ service.
In Northern Colorado, two flights, one in May and one in September, take over a hundred veterans on a whirlwind tour of our nation’s capital and war memorials. Each guardian stays with his or her vet throughout the trip. All the guardians have volunteered and have paid their own expenses. The doctor and nurse on the trip, the folks who have put together the eventÑall volunteer with their time and their talents. There is no cost to the veterans; everything is free because of the good folks in the area and their donations.
The excitement doesn’t end when the buses bring everyone back to the hotel the following evening. Each veteran receives a quilt sewn by the local ladies, a packet of thank you notes from school children, and a photo album with CD for memories of the trip. One vet remarked, “I feel appreciated for the first time.” In many cases our Vietnam veterans especially need this treatment.
For more information on Honor Fights throughout the country: