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Honor Flight schedule released

| February 8, 2015

COSHOCTON – The 2015 Honor Flight schedule has been released and area veterans who served during World War II and/or the Korean War are being encouraged to register.

Veterans are provided this tour-of-honor experience as a token of gratitude and respect for their service to our country.

Honor Flight Columbus recognizes and celebrates World War II and Korean War Veterans by flying them to Washington, D.C. to visit memorials dedicated to their important service at no cost to them.

Honor Flight Columbus is a completely volunteer and non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. It has a simple mission, to safely transport America’s Veterans to Washington D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their sacrifices.

The 2015 flight schedule includes the following dates: April 18, May 9, May 30, June 20, Aug. 29, Sept. 19, and Oct. 10. Eligible veterans are World War II ones who served Dec. 7, 1941 – Dec.31, 1946 or Korean War ones who served June 25, 1950 -Jan.31, 1955.

All flights are made on commercial airliners.

The World War II Memorial was dedicated in May 2004 and the Korean War memorial was dedicated in July 1995.

These all-expense-paid, one-day trips to the nation’s capital occur April – October as donations permit.

Regrettably, many of these aging vets have been unable to visit their memorial in a conventional way on their own due to lack of funds or travel impediments. Through volunteer guardians who pay their own way, we overcome many of the problems and escort them on this “trip of a lifetime.”

“It is a day filled with camaraderie, memories, laughter and tears as the veterans remember that time they unselfishly served so we can enjoy the freedom we often take for granted,” said Jim Barstow, Coshocton County Veterans Service Officer. “It is a tremendous opportunity for these heroes.”

Since June 2012, 45 area veterans (20 World War II, 25 Korean War) and 15 guardians have participated in the flights.

The veterans enjoy a wonderful day with Honor Flight. They stay overnight at a hotel near the airport so they are able to arrive at Port Columbus early in the morning and fly with Southwest Airlines to Baltimore. A short bus ride to Washington takes them to the World War II Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Iwo Jima Memorial, Korean War Memorial and other monuments dedicated to the servicemen and women of our country, as time allows. They then fly back to Columbus where the veterans enjoy the warm welcome home they never had. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided. Medical personnel are assigned to each group and restrooms are readily available.

Guardians have a very important role in the mission of Honor Flight. They are the volunteers who escort/assist veterans during the mission and interact with the vet from the first preflight session through the actual flight and the subsequent reunion. Their involvement is continuous on flight day, from assembly at the beginning of the day through Home Coming and departure back home at the end of the day, the guardian is there to ensure that the vets have a safe and enjoyable experience. Each vet has his/her own dedicated guardian.

Requirements are that guardians must be in good physical condition. A typical flight day can be 20 or more hours and they will walk up to five miles during the day. A guardian may be asked to push a wheelchair for several hours and may be asked to load and unload wheel chairs from the bus. All guardians, regardless of age, must pass a medical review before they are accepted and should be prepared to attend at least one mandatory training session prior to the actual flight date. In addition, they are required to pay a $300 tax-deductible flight “donation.”

In 2005, six privately owned airplanes flew 12 World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorial. From that humble beginning the Honor Flight network has flown over 50,000 veterans to Washington to visit and reflect at their memorials, all at no cost for the veterans. Honor Flight can fly only those veterans who have expressed interest and completed an application. All of us know a veteran, have a friend or a friend of a friend that knows a veteran, or we sometimes see a veteran out and about. Take the time to talk to these heroes and tell them about Honor Flight.

Veterans and/or guardians interested in registering or need additional information regarding an upcoming flight should contact the Veterans Service Office at 622-2313.

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