Introduction to Honor Flight

     

What is Honor Flight?

{much of this material has been copied from Wikipedia}

The Honor Flight Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which works as an umbrella organization with local chapters and various subgroups.  The Honor Flight Network reports that it has flown over 159,000 veterans to the Washington, D.C. memorials since 2005

The network was founded by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Air Force captain. Morse worked in a Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Springfield, Ohio, where he saw many patients who were World War II veterans. After the National World War II Memorial in Washington was completed in 2004, he asked many of his veteran patients if they were going to see it, and most said yes. "I would see my World War II veterans some three, six months later," Morse said, "and I'd ask them if they'd gone to see it. Three hundred of them, and not one of them had been to it. Reality set in. They were never going."  Morse offered to fly with two veterans to Washington to see the memorial, and after seeing them break down and cry and graciously accept the offer, he pitched his idea to a local aeroclub of 300 private pilots at a local Air Force base, proposing that the pilots would pay for the flights for the veterans to Washington and personally escort them around the city. Eleven volunteered, and the network was formed; by 2005, a board was formed, funds were raised, and volunteers had joined.  The first honor flight took place in May 2005, when six small planes flew 12 veterans to Washington, D.C. Due to high participation, the program began using commercial flights. At the end of 2005, the program had transported 137 veterans to the memorial.

 

In late 2005, Jeff Miller, a dry cleaning company owner in Hendersonville, North Carolina, inspired by Morse's vision, had a similar idea but on a larger scale. Miller, the son of a World War II veteran and nephew of a B-24 bomber pilot who died in the war, had been a charter member of the National World War II Memorial Foundation. Like Morse, Miller lamented that many World War II veterans would be unable to visit the memorial. The seed that Morse had planted grew to a veritable forest of volunteerism, fundraising and goodwill toward the Greatest Generation veterans, who had been too busy building their communities to demand recognition for wartime service. On 23 and 24 Sep and 4 Nov 2006, HonorAir flew more than 300 World War II veterans from the Asheville Regional Airport to Washington, free of charge. HonorAir provided everything: a medical doctor and several EMTs, guardians who would attend to the needs of three to four veterans each, tour buses to take them the World War II Memorial and other national memorials, and a box lunch. Ticket agents and passengers lined the ropes as veterans emerged from the charter jets into the terminal.

 

The Springfield group and HonorAir soon merged to form the Honor Flight Network.  As of 2014, the Honor Flight Network is still headquartered in Springfield, Ohio.  Both Jeff Miller and Earl Morse were awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2008 for their extensive work with the program.

 
 

Date Last Updated:  20-Aug-2017

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