Recognizing The Service Of Our Veterans Through ‘Honor Flight’
Our veterans have given so much to this nation, and I truly believe we should do all we can to honor their sacrifice and thank them for their incredible service.
Starting June 6, West Virginians will have a new way to do just that. That’s when West Virginia’s “Always Free Honor Flight” is making its inaugural trip to Washington, D.C. The next Honor Flight will take place in October, and if you or someone you know served in World War II, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War, I encourage you to register for this wonderful – and cost-free – event.
“Always Free Honor Flight” was started in West Virginia by The Denver Foundation and Little Buddy Radio located in Princeton. The overarching Honor Flight Network is an idea that started with Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Air Force Captain who wanted to honor the veterans he had cared for over 27 years. After he retired from the Air Force in 1998, Earl went to work for the Department of Veterans Affairs in a small clinic in Springfield, Ohio.
In the meantime, the World War II Memorial was being completed in Washington, D.C. In May of 2004, the memorial was dedicated to the troops who made the ultimate sacrifice. According to the Honor Flight Network, Earl asked the veterans he was treating at the clinic if they would ever be able to travel to Washington to visit their memorial. While most told him they believed they would, Earl eventually found that it was not financially or physically possible for many of these veterans to make the trip a reality. So he took it upon himself to make it happen.
Earl was also a private pilot. He started what would become the Honor Flight Network by asking one of his patients, a World War II veteran, if Earl could personally fly him out to D.C. to see the World War II Memorial. A free trip for one patient led to another, and Earl quickly realized that, with the help of other pilots, he could do something very special for the nation’s World War II veterans. He asked for assistance from other pilots, assuring the veterans that they would not be required to pay a dime, and that the pilots would personally escort the veterans around D.C. for an entire day.
The first flight took place in May 2005, and by the end of that year, Honor Flight had taken 137 World War II veterans to visit the World War II Memorial. The Honor Flight Network has expanded to cities and states around the country, and in 2011, the network transported 18,055 veterans to see their memorials at no cost to the veterans.
Now, for the first time, West Virginia’s veterans will have the tremendous opportunity to participate in an Honor Flight. On June 06, the very first Honor Flight will leave from West Virginia. The trip is scheduled to leave from the Princeton Walmart at 2:45 AM, and return that evening after visiting the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial Wall and the Korean War Memorial. I am so pleased that I will be able to greet these veterans when they arrive in Washington.
I know that the communities around Princeton and Bluefield have worked very hard to establish our state’s first and only Honor Flight, and I want to thank them for their efforts. This is just one way that West Virginia can say ‘thank you’ for your service and your sacrifice.
There is no cost for veterans to participate, though if you are planning to escort a veteran, the cost is $125. If you would like additional information, you should call Little Buddy Radio at 304-425-8660.
I hope that all of West Virginia’s World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans will take this opportunity to visit the memorials in Washington that are dedicated to your service. May God bless you, and may God bless the great state of West Virginia.