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The Suburbanite
  • Great job by Honor Flight CAK

  • The issue: End of local Honor Flight program

    Our view: Thanks for making ‘one of life’s greatest experiences’ possible for veterans

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  • The issue: End of local Honor Flight program
    Our view: Thanks for making ‘one of life’s greatest experiences’ possible for veterans
    Two World War II veterans from Jackson Township wrote a letter to the editor of The Rep earlier this year to thank the people at Honor Flight CAK. There won’t be many more letters such as this, but it is not because of any failings on the part of the local Honor Flight program.
    Just the opposite, in fact. It has been such a remarkable success, it has put itself out of business.
    The two letter writers had been among the 100 or so veterans on an Honor Flight in May from Akron-Canton Airport to Washington, D.C., to see the military memorials, including the new World War II memorial. They called the Honor Flight “one of life’s greatest experiences.”
    Honor Flight CAK has made similarly unforgettable experiences possible for more than 1,000 area veterans of World War II. The flight planned for this Saturday will be the last, bringing the total to more than 1,100 veterans served.
    This will be the last flight because the local program — part of the nationwide Honor Flight Network — has worked all the way through the long waiting list it established when the flights began here in 2008.
    “We haven’t really had to do any fundraising,” Honor Flight CAK Director Valerie Street Kinney told The Rep. Companies, organizations and others have always stepped up to absorb the cost.
    Thanks to dozens of volunteers, the veterans are treated from start to finish “like royalty,” in the words of one veteran. They are cheered by large crowds both at Reagan National Airport when they arrive in Washington and at Akron-Canton Airport when they return home late the same day. The veterans, many in wheelchairs, are attended to by volunteer guardians throughout the day. Passengers on some trips have met celebrities such as former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, actor Tom Hanks and filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
    Unless they want to buy souvenirs, the veterans aren’t allowed to pay for a thing, or to make contributions to Honor Flight. Through their war service, they’ve made more contributions than anyone could repay.
    If you ask anyone associated with Honor Flight, they will tell you it has been their honor to serve the veterans. Valerie Street Kinney and Honor Flight CAK’s many volunteers and donors deserve Stark Countians’ thanks for making this great experience possible for so many veterans.