Honor Flight for veterans
Some 60 years ago, hundreds of thousands of men lost their lives in World War Two.
And just four years ago, a national memorial was built in their honor.
Sadly, hundreds of World War Two veterans die everyday, never getting to see that memorial.
Now a group called Honor Flight is trying to get every veteran it can to Washington D-C to see it for free.
A group out of Union Missouri flew out this past Saturday, and KHQA's Chad Douglas was honored to be on that plane.
This impressive memorial rests in the middle of two of the most well known memorials in the world, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It symbolizes just about every aspect of the war. From the lives lost, to the battles fought, to the hard working men and women at home helping the war effort. Sadly, many of the men and women who fought in that war will never get to see it. But Honor Flight hopes to help.
"It's an impossible task for many of them to go to Washington. First, they need help and maybe family can't do it. The other thing is the cost. A lot of WWII veterans nest egg is gone," says co-founder of Franklin County Honor Flight Jim Tayon.
That's why every veteran flies for free. One of the co-founders told me, these men have paid enough. Honor Flight also takes along several volunteers called guardians to help the trip run smoothly. It's a one day trip, chock full of American Pride. We left St. Louis at seven in the morning on a Saturday, and flew to Baltimore.
There, these men were saluted and honored by current Army soldiers and other members of Honor Flight in that area.
"They know for sure they're appreciated," says Tayor.
Once at the memorial, these veterans were greeted by a special guest and WWII vet, former Senator Bob Dole and his wife current Senator Elizabeth Dole. I'm told Senator Dole has not missed a group of Honor Flight veterans since the program started a couple of years ago. (nats?) The veterans also get to visit several other war memorials while in Washington D.C. Then it's back home. But before we land in St. Louis, something special happens.
"On the flight home, we do what we call mail call," says Tayon.
"We have letters written by school children and we bundle them and sort them," says Tayon.
Keep in mind, back in World War II, mail was everything because soldiers and sailors didn't have TV or the internet.
"The letters tell them they love and respect them and appreciate what they did," says Tayon.
And once these veterans are back in St. Louis, it's one final pat on the back and a huge thank you from family members waiting to pick them up.
"Many of them have said this is the best day of my life," says Tayon.
For more information on Honor Flight, you can check out www.honorflight.org.
The group I flew with is called Franklin County Honor Flight out of Union Missouri.
It's website is www.franklincountyhonorflight.org.
You can also write or send a donation to that chapter at Franklin County Honor Flight, PO Box 60, Union, MO 63084
A member of this flight is trying to start up a chapter in Springfield, Illinois.