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Seats Left for Free October Flight to D.C. For Area Veterans

Honor Flight of the Ozarks

A charitable organization that gives free tours of our nation’s capital to area veterans is calling on service men and women to board its final flight this year. Honor Flight of the Ozarks offers veterans an all-expense paid, one-day flight to view the various memorials in Washington, D.C.

Honor Flight began in Springfield, Ohio in 2005. Springfield, Missouri became an affiliate in 2009. Due to lack of funding, the organization had to close shortly after but reopened roughly three years ago.

Since then, Honor Flight of the Ozarks has taken four flights, with each trip sending 75 veterans, paid for by donations.

From its humble beginnings, the Honor Flight Network and its affiliated hubs has grown significantly, now with 132 regional in the U.S. Sheila Collins is with the Ozarks chapter.

“About 120 thousand veterans I think have made it to Washington to see the memorials, so it’s a really big thing,” Collins said.

The program was originally designed for World War II veterans but now includes veterans who are terminally in, and those who served in the Korean War.

For some of the veterans, this trip, according to Collins, gives them the celebratory events a lot of them didn’t receive when they initially came home.

“I grew up in the Vietnam era, and I understood that we weren’t good to those guys when they back, but I didn’t understand that the Korea veterans didn’t really have any kind of welcome home either,” Collins said.

Harvey Wright is a Korean War veteran who went on an Honor Flight trip in August. He explained that although he did feel welcomed when returning home from combat, he really appreciated by the respect he was shown during his Honor Flight’s experience.

“It brought back a lot of memories to me as I remembered my days in the Army and certainly felt that this was a great honor that was being done in my behalf and I took advantage of taking the trip and I certainly enjoyed it,” Wright said.

Wright explained that while the entire day was moving, it was when the veterans received their mail calls that was especially touching.

“It was a very emotional time for me particularly,” he said.

The Honor Flight takes its next trip on October 20. They are hoping to fill 75 seats for veterans and seeking volunteers as well to serve as guardians. The guardians pay $450 to cover the costs for themselves. Veterans’ flights are financed by donations to the Honor Flight of the Ozarks. Each flight costs about $90,000, according to the organization.

At 10 p.m. October 20, the veterans return to the Springfield-Branson National Airport. Honor Flight invites members of the community to come out and give the veterans a homecoming welcome.

For more information visit the Honors Flight website.