The meal will consist of
chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, roll and
butter, and iced tea and coffee, all for $7. Carryouts will be
There will also be a 50-50 raffle, bake sale and merchandise
Land of Lincoln Honor Flight information will be available
along with applications and fundraising shirts.
The dinner and activities are sponsored by the American Legion
family: the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of
the American Legion.
About Honor Flight
Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit organization created solely
to honor America's veterans for all their sacrifices. Honor Flight
transports veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect at their
memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans --
World War II survivors -- along with other veterans who may be
Of all the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly
threatened our very existence as a nation and as a culturally
diverse, free society. Now, with over a thousand World War II
veterans dying each day, the time to express thanks to these brave
men and women is running out.
The trips are at no cost for World War II and terminally ill
veterans. The veterans do not need to bring any money, unless they
intend to purchase souvenirs.
Honor Flight Network receives no national, government
sponsorship. Funding comes primarily from individuals across the
country who recognize the great accomplishments and sacrifices of
veterans and want them to see their memorial before it's too late.
Other significant contributors have been fraternal organizations
such as local chapters and posts of the American Legion, Veterans of
Foreign Wars, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans and Military Order
of the Purple Heart, as well as various corporations on a local
The inaugural Honor Flight took place in May of 2005. Six small
planes flew out of Springfield, Ohio, taking 12 World War II
veterans on a visit to Washington, D.C. In August of 2005, an
ever-expanding waiting list of veterans led to the transition to
commercial airline carriers, with the goal of accommodating as many
veterans as possible.
Honor Flight later partnered with HonorAir in
Hendersonville, N.C., to form the Honor Flight Network. Today, the
organization continues working aggressively to expand its programs
to other cities across the nation.
How a dream became a reality
The Honor Flight Network program was conceived by Earl Morse, a
physician assistant and retired Air Force captain. He wanted to
honor the veterans he had taken care of for the past 27 years.
retiring from the Air Force in 1998, Morse was hired by the
Department of Veterans Affairs to work in a small clinic in
Springfield, Ohio. In May of 2004, the World War II Memorial was
finally completed and dedicated in Washington, D.C., and quickly
became the topic of discussion among his World War II veteran
Morse repeatedly asked these veterans if they would ever travel
out to visit their memorial. Most felt that eventually, somehow,
they would make it to D.C., perhaps with a family member or friend.
As summer turned to fall and then winter, these same veterans
returned to the clinic for their follow-up visits. Morse asked if
they had accomplished their dream of visiting the World War II Memorial.
By then, for most of the veterans he asked, reality had settled in;
it was clear to most that it simply wasn't financially or physically
possible for them to make the journey. Most of these senior heroes
were in their 80s and lacked the physical and mental wherewithal to
complete a trip on their own. Families and friends also lacked the
resources and time to complete the three- to four-day trip to the
Morse could tell that the majority of the veterans had given up
all hope of ever visiting the memorial that was specifically created
to honor their services as well as the services of their fellow
comrades who had paid the ultimate sacrifice. That's when he decided
that there had to be a way to get these heroes to D.C. to see their
In addition to being a physician assistant, Morse was a private
pilot and a member of one of the nation's largest and best aero
clubs, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
And things started coming together.
In December of 2004, Morse asked one of his World War II veteran
patients if it would be all right if he personally flew him out to
D.C., free of charge, to visit his memorial. The veteran, Mr. Loy, broke down and
cried. He told Morse that at his age he would probably never get to
see his memorial otherwise and graciously accepted the offer.
[to top of second column]
Morse posed the same question to a second World War II veteran a
week later. He too cried and enthusiastically accepted the trip.
didn't take long for Morse to realize there were many veterans
who would have the same reaction. So he started asking for help from
other pilots to make these dreams a reality.
In January of 2005, he addressed about 150 members of the aero
club during a safety meeting, outlining a volunteer program to fly
veterans to their memorial. There were two major stipulations to his
request. The first was that the veterans pay nothing. The entire
aircraft rental -- $600 to $1,200 for the day -- would have to be paid
solely by the pilots. The second was that the pilots personally
escort the veterans around D.C. for the entire day.
After he spoke, 11 pilots who had never met his patients stepped
up to volunteer. And Honor Flight was born.
The dream takes flight
Soon other dedicated volunteers joined, a board was formed, funds
were raised and that first flight took to the air in May of 2005.
Six small planes flew 12 very happy veterans out to Manassas, Va.,
just outside of Washington, D.C. Vans then transported the pilots
and veterans into D.C. and to the World War II Memorial.
The responses from both the veterans and the pilots were
overwhelming. It was an experience that will remain with them for
the rest of their lives.
Soon other flights were planned and made.
So many veterans wanted to participate that commercial aircraft were
used to accommodate 40 veterans at a time, including many in
wheelchairs. By the end of the first year, Honor Flight had
transported 137 World War II veterans to their memorial.
In 2006, commercial flights were used exclusively, due to the
number of veterans on the waiting list and adverse weather
conditions that prohibited small aircraft from participating on a
regular schedule. Locally, another 300 veterans completed the
journey during that year.
The mission and ideals of the program began to spread across
America. Other cities and states became aware of the efforts, and
Honor Flight fostered working relationships with dedicated community
leaders in several states.
Jeff Miller in Hendersonville, N.C., led the expansion into areas
not serviced by direct commercial flights to the Washington, D.C.,
area. He accomplished what was thought to be impossible, organizing
and obtaining funding to fly an entire commercial jet filled with
local area veterans to visit the monument.
This was the beginning of Henderson County's HonorAir. On Sept.
23, 2006, and again on Sept. 24 the US Airways-chartered jet was
filled with World War II veterans and their guardians. Miller repeated
his success on Nov. 4, 2006. In less than three months, HonorAir had
flown over 300 World War II veterans to D.C.
Miller quickly shared his expertise with others who started HonorAir programs in several other areas of the country. By the end
of 2006, 891 World War II veterans across America realized their
dream of visiting their memorial.
In May 2008, Southwest Airlines stepped up by donating thousands
of free tickets and was named the official commercial carrier of the
Honor Flight Network in a joint news release. It is because of this
generous donation that the Honor Flight Network undoubtedly now has
more flexibility, more opportunity and is now more able than ever to
serve more veterans on the "anxiously waiting list" than would have
been possible otherwise, given the economic situation and the
decrease in charitable contributions.
[Text from Honor Flight
Network, American Legion, LDN]