Group adds third ‘honor flight’ to get Northland vets to D.C.With a little help from friends, World War II veterans will have the chance to travel to Washington on three Northland Honor Flights this year.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
With a little help from friends, World War II veterans will have the chance to travel to Washington on three Northland Honor Flights this year.
The announcement of a third flight in 2012 to see the World War II Memorial and other sights was made during a news conference at Denfeld High School on Saturday. The Honor Flight Northland board also sponsored two flights in 2011.
Board member Durbin Keeney said an $18,000 donation from Little Stores will help defray the cost. Money also was offered from a group in Rochester, Minn., where some money was left with no additional flights planned, Keeney said.
This year’s first flight, on May 15, is already full and has a waiting list, Keeney said. The other flights will be Sept. 25 and Oct. 9, and it’s not too early to sign up, he said.
The flights and tour are offered free to World War II veterans. Each flight costs about $90,000 and carries about 160 people, Keeney said. Between 90 and 100 of those are veterans, and the rest are guardians and support personnel. The number of veterans who can be accommodated depends on the number of wheelchairs needed, he said. The May 15 flight will have 45 veterans in wheelchairs, more than either of last year’s flights, Keeney said.
One guardian is needed for every two or three veterans, Keeney said, but the ratio is one-to-one for those with wheelchairs.
Keeney singled out Gold Cross for their help with the project. “They have always provided us with medical people and equipment, and they pay for their seats,” he said.
Once all of the World War II veterans in the region who want to make the trip have been accommodated, future flights will be offered to veterans of the Korean conflict, Keeney said. Exceptions for veterans of more recent wars already have been made in special circumstances.
Last year, a Vietnam War veteran with a terminal illness was taken on one of the flights, along with his wife, Keeney said. “He told us, ‘Pretty soon I’ll be able to tell my buddies that I saw this,’ ” Keeney recalled. The veteran has since died.
For more information
To learn more about the Northland Honor Flights or to sign up for the Sept. 25 and Oct. 9 flights, go to honorflightnorthland.org.