A group of World War II veterans is spending the day in Washington, D.C., visiting the World War II Memorial. The vets are in the Nation’s Capital, courtesy of the Honor Flight Network , which was set up in 2005 to take veterans to the memorial. The first Honor Flight flew out of Springfield Ohio, but Honor Flight hubs are now located throughout the country.
Missouri is home to five of these groups, with hubs in central Missouri, Kansas City, Sedalia, St. Louis, and Franklin County. Efforts are underway to open a hub in southwest Missouri. It is the mid-Missouri contingent – the Central Missouri Honor Flight – which is taking 34 veterans and 21 others to Washington this day. President Barb Brueggeman says the visits mean a lot to these veterans.
"It’s very emotional, not only at the memorial itself, which, for so many of them – because they had to move on from battle to battle during World War II – they never had a chance to grieve for their fallen comrades," said Brueggeman. "And we left a lot of people behind, and they didn’t go to funerals, and they didn’t have a chance to cry."
There is no cost to veterans for these all-expenses-paid day trips as they are paid for through private donations.
"We, so far, have done all of this – three flights – with nothing but individual donations and some civic organizations that have done some fundraising and some donations," said Brueggeman. "But no corporate sponsorship, whatsoever."
Brueggeman concedes the poor economy might have something to with the lack of corporate sponsorship.
Contributions are accepted to the Adopt-A-Veteran program, which – for $300 – provides air fare, bus fare, meals, and liability insurance. The donations can be sent to: Central Missouri Honor Flight, c/o KOMU TV, 5550 Highway 63 South, Columbia, Missouri 65201.