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Thanks for the trip. Without you and others I would not have gone. We were treated like royalty. Couldn’t ask for any nicer company. Thanks a million.

Joe S., 25 October 2011


 

I wish to thank each of you for giving me another reason for living. The trip to D.C. to view the WWII memorial will be a memory to cherish. I was humbled and honored by the respect and caring that was afforded me on that special day. I think that the most meaningful moment for me was the laying of the wreath at the WWII memorial. I had the time then to remember and say a prayer for those who did not come home. Of course the mail call on the flight back was great. I received 40 letters and I have answered them all. I had the opportunity to deliver the ones from the students to their school while I was in Grapevine. Thank you all again for helping an old veteran to enter into the sunset years of his life with joy.

Harry S., 24 May 2011


 

Honor Flight

The inaugural Honor Flight took place in May of 2005. Six small planes flew out of Springfield, Ohio taking twelve World War II veterans on a visit to the memorial in Washington, DC. In August of 2005, an ever-expanding waiting list of veterans led our transition to commercial airline carriers with the goal of accommodating as many veterans as possible.

The Honor Flight Network program was conceived by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and Retired Air Force Captain. Earl wanted to honor the veterans he had taken care of for the past 27 years.  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 patients.

The Spark of an Idea

Earl 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 Earl decided that there had to be a way to get these heroes to D.C. to see their memorial.

In December of 2004, Earl asked one of his World War II veteran patients if it would be all right if Earl personally flew him out to D.C., free of charge, to visit his memorial. Mr. Loy broke down and cried. He told Earl that at his age he would probably never get to see his memorial otherwise and graciously accepted the offer.

Earl posed the same question to a second World War II veteran a week later. He too cried and enthusiastically accepted the trip. It didn’t take long for Earl to realize that 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, Earl 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 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 Earl spoke, eleven 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, Virginia, 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 forty 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.

The Future of Honor Flight… Help Us Meet Our Goal

The mission and ideals of the program began to spread across America. Other cities and states became aware of our efforts and we fostered working relationships with dedicated community leaders in several states.

The future looks bright for our country's World War II veterans. A network of participating programs is in place to assist our senior heroes. Resources are pooled, experience is shared and alliances are formed throughout America to get World War II veterans to their precious memorial safely.

The program presently has 71 hubs in 30 states. Due to the senior age of our heroes, and the prediction that we are losing approximately 1,000 of them daily, we are committed to do all within our power to make their dream a reality. Our current focus will remain on World War II veterans and those veterans from any war who have a terminal illness. However, our vision goes beyond World War II.

Veterans are NEVER asked to pay. Veterans are NEVER solicited for donations.  Unsolicited donations are only accepted AFTER the veteran has taken a free flight.   All flights occur due to the financial generosity of individuals, organizations and companies in a local area who donate money.  Volunteers give of their time to organize flights, fund raisers, and provide administrative duties and assistance to veterans on the flight.   Each HFN hub has a volunteer Board of Directors who organizes all details of their respective flights, while under the guidance of the HFN Policies and Procedures.

Our veterans express interest for flights by completing applications on the Honor Flight Network website or local Honor Flight hub websites.   Veterans are also nominated by friends and family members through the application process.  All veterans applying will be flown based on a “first-come, first-served” basis.  “First-come” is based on when a veteran’s application has been received by the Honor Flight Network headquarters or by a local HFN hub.

Safety is the foremost concern for all the veterans   Therefore, each veteran is assigned a guardian for each flight. Guardians are volunteers and are with the veteran throughout the entire flight.   Individuals are accepted for the guardian role by completing an application and are then chosen by the HFN hub directors.  Guardian training is provided at each HFN hub prior to every flight to ensure all guardians receive proper instruction in ground and air safety, potential medical emergencies, general duties and responsibilities, and accepting donations from the general public.

Honoring All Our Veterans

In the future, Honor Flight Network will also pay tribute to America's other heroes who served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, followed by veterans of more current wars. They, too, have given so much and it's time we show them that their efforts are not forgotten. Our veteran heroes aren't asking for recognition. It is our position that they deserve it. Our program is just a small token of our appreciation for those that gave so much.

Please help us continue to make their dream of visiting THEIR memorial, a reality.
It is our way of saying to all our veterans — one more TOUR with HONOR.

Consider The Following:

In our first year, 2005, HFN safely transported 137 veterans to see THEIR memorials, at no cost to the veterans.

In our second year, 2006, HFN safely transported 891 veterans to see THEIR memorials, at no cost to the veterans.

In our third year, 2007, HFN safely transported over 5,000 veterans to see THEIR memorials, at no cost to the veterans.

In our fourth year, 2008, HFN safely transported 11,137 veterans to see THEIR memorials, at no cost to the veterans.

In our fifth year, 2009, HFN safely transported 17,832 veterans to see THEIR memorials, at no cost to the veterans!

And in our sixth year, 2010, HFN safely transported 22,149 veterans to see THEIR memorials, at no cost to the veterans!

With the continued support of grateful Americans, by the end of the 2010 flying season in November, HFN transported more than 63,292 veterans of World War II, Korea and Viet Nam to see the memorials built to honor their suffering and sacrifice to keep this great nation free and a world leader.

 

Mission Statement:

Transport America's veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices.

Goal:

Helping every single veteran in America, willing and able of getting on a plane or a bus, visit THEIR memorial.

Priority:

Top priority is given to America's most senior heroes — survivors of World War II and any veteran with a terminal illness who wishes to visit THEIR memorial. The program will naturally transition to Korean War, Vietnam War and all other veterans who served, on a chronological basis.

Philosophy:

Since America felt it was important to build a memorial to the service and the ultimate sacrifice of her veterans, the Honor Flight Network believes it's equally important that they actually get to visit and experience THEIR memorial.

Motto:

“We can’t all be heroes. Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they go by.” -  Will Rogers