When World War II veterans went on a recent Honor Flight to visit war memorials in Washington, D.C., they were “blown away” by the reception they received at Reagan National Airport.
When World War II veterans went on a recent Honor Flight to visit war memorials in Washington, D.C., they were “blown away” by the reception they received at Reagan National Airport, said one of their guardians, Holly Maloney.
“There was an orchestra playing,” Maloney said.
Valerie Street Kinney, executive director for Honor Flight CAK, said 103 veterans took the most recent trip May 14. They were accompanied by 76 guardians.
Kinney noted that 55 of the veterans were in wheelchairs, which serves to illustrate the urgency with which Honor Flight Network works throughout the country to provide free visits for World War II vets to the memorials.
“Honor Flight CAK is a nonprofit organization to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifices. We transport them to Washington, D.C., via charter flight from the Akron-Canton Airport, to visit and reflect at their memorials,” explains the website www.honor flightcak.org.
Among the veterans on this trip were four sets of brothers, Kinney said. She noted 15 of the vets were 90 years or older, with the oldest veteran, Geraldine DeStefano, the oldest at 96.
Many sons and daughters of the veterans went along as guardians.
The guardian who traveled the farthest to participate was Marc Little, who came from California to be guardian to his grandfather, William Hootman. Little had just returned from Iraq the week before.
This was the ninth Honor Flight from Akron-Canton Airport. One additional flight was flown by the group from a Dayton Airport.
“We have flown close to 900 vets to date,” Kinney said.
The Honor Flight Network, active at 94 hubs in 34 states, has flown more than 63,000 World War II veterans as of December 2010, she said.
Visiting the memorials, of course, was the highlight for those on the recent Akron-Canton Honor Flight. But, returning provided them with a display of respect.
“They were blown away again when they got back to Akron-Canton,” Maloney said. “We always have a good welcome home, but this time there were a ton of people there.”
CONTACT HONOR FLIGHT
Honor Flight CAK serves 19 counties surrounding Akron-Canton Airport.
To make an application for a veteran or apply to become a guardian, visit www.honorflightcak.org, write firstname.lastname@example.org or call (330) 413-3224.
To make a contribution, send a check payable to Honor Flight CAK to Honor Flight CAK, 567 E. Turkeyfoot Lake Road, Akron, OH 44319.
“It is our mission to serve those who served our country by providing them a day, free of cost, to visit their memorial with their comrades.” — Earl Morse, Founder and President of Honor Flight Network