Veterans who have not had a chance to visit Washington D.C. and see the war memorials dedicated to them should know they can go for free on an Honor Flight.
Honor Flights are a way of paying back the veterans who have kept the nation safe. The trips do not cost the veterans anything; everything is paid for through donations. Veterans are flown to Washington D.C. where they spend a single day visiting the various war memorials. The current focus is on veterans of WWII and any veteran who has a terminal illness, but veterans from Korea, Vietnam and more current conflicts will be provided flights in the future.
The first Honor Flight was in May 2005 when a physician and veteran who cared for WWII vets realized that some of his patients didn't have the means to make the journey to see the new WWII Memorial. As a pilot, he decided to personally fly out a veteran, and asked for support from his aero club. More pilots stepped forward, and 12 veterans were flown in six small planes. The pilots paid for everything, including food and hotels.
The idea quickly spread, and now Honor Flights take off daily from all over the United States to bring veterans to see the memorials dedicated to their service. The nearest hub to the Yakima Valley is Inland Northwest Honor Flight based out of Spokane. They are always taking applications. Their most recent flight spent Sept. 24 touring the memorials. "It was tiring," said participant Russell Reynolds of Sunnyside. "But wonderful. Bring a handkerchief, you'll need it."
Applications for an Honor Flight can be downloaded at inwhonorflight.org. For more information visit the website, request information at INW Honor Flight, 608 W. 2nd, Ste. 309, Spokane WA 99201-4430 or call (509) 624-0222.
The national organization is at honorflight.org and can be contacted at Honor Flight, Inc., 300 E. Auburn Ave., Springfield, OH 45505-4703 or by phone at 937-521-2400.