Nonprofit Pays Tribute To Veterans

Honor Flight Network pays tribute to Veterans.

On October 20th, two chartered commercial jets flew 168 veterans free of charge to the nation's capital to visit the World War II memorial and other military memorials. The event was facilitated by the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit organization created to honor America's veterans.

The program began in 2005 to take veterans to see the memorials built to honor them. It gives top priority to World War II survivors and veterans with terminal illnesses, and to date has transported more than 81,000 World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans to the nation's capital.

The Courier News, a Russellvile, AR newspaper reported on the trip on the 20th.

Several of the local veterans had been to Washington D.C. before, but none had actually seen the WWII memorial and all said the special treatment shown them during the Honor Flight was unparalleled to any trip they could have arranged solo.

“All along the way we were greeted with cheers and so much patriotism,” veteran Harvey Young said. “It was an amazing experience. I was impressed by the soldiers and sailors in their Class A uniforms and by the young people who thanked us along the way.”

Former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole, who tries to make each Honor Flight, greeted the veterans upon arrival at the memorial and posed for a picture with each veteran who wanted to wait his or her turn.

The trip was made even more special because each veteran was accompanied by a guardian, which in many instances was a close friend or relative.

Peggy Stratton was able to attend with her dad, Jim Sweeden, and she said she was impressed by the entire flight, from start to finish. The trip was punctuated with patriotic displays from volunteers and even young students.

“One little 5-year-old girl thanked my dad,” Stratton said. “The entire trip was just phenomenal and meant the world to him. I was so honored to be a part of that special day.”

When the veterans returned to Little Rock, it was to a crowd of more than 250 individuals waving flags, posters and thanking them for their service.