April 14 Honor Flight To Celebrate 82 Local Vets

They left their hometowns and families to serve their country in the U.S. Armed Forces during some of the most tumultuous and tense times of their generations. They often returned home with little fanfare.

It is now Southeast Florida Honor Flight’s privilege to pay tribute to 82 World War II and Korean War veterans with an Honor Flight on Saturday, April 14, the first of four flights in 2018.

A total of 15 WWII and 67 Korean War veterans will be flown from Palm Beach International Airport to Washington, D.C., for the day. Every Honor Flight is designed to bring local veterans to Washington to visit and reflect at the memorials built to honor their service and sacrifices.

After a 4:30 a.m. check-in, veterans, their guardians and Honor Flight staff will board the chartered American Airlines Airbus 321 and head to Washington. The group will visit, via four police-escorted motor coaches, the Air Force Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery for the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, the World War II Memorial and the Korean War Memorial.

The April 14 trip is made up of veterans who served during WWII and the Korean War, with a few serving in both Korea and Vietnam, from the following military branches: Army (57), Navy (17), Air Force (8), Marines (4) and Coast Guard (2).

In Honor Flight tradition, the public can also show how they remember these veterans by welcoming them home from Washington at Operation Homecoming at Palm Beach International Airport on the evening of Saturday, April 14.

Operation Homecoming is an emotional event for both the veterans and the crowd. All are invited to come await the veterans’ arrival to give them a true welcome home — a welcome that most never received years ago. Signs of thanks, flags, cheers and handshakes are encouraged.

Operation Homecoming takes place at Palm Beach International Airport, Level 2, Concourse A/B. The Honor Flight will arrive at PBIA at 7:20 p.m. Early arrival is recommended.

For more information on Operation Homecoming, call (855) FLYAVET (855-359-2838).

As no accessible official veteran database exists with the federal government, Southeast Florida Honor Flight relies on word of mouth, public education via presentations and civic and veteran groups to find WWII and Korean War veterans to sign up for their Honor Flight. If you are, or if you know of a WWII or Korean War veteran who would like to take their Honor Flight, and has not already done so, either call (855) FLYAVET (855-359-2838) or fill out the veteran application online at www.honorflightsefl.org.

Attention all Vietnam veterans: Southeast Florida Honor Flight is now taking veteran applications from Vietnam veterans, who will soon become the next group of veterans to be honored.

Honor Flight also always needs guardians — trip escorts for the veterans — for the four flights per year. For those interested, visit www.honorflightsefl.org and complete the online guardian application. It is an extremely meaningful day for both guardian and veteran.

Southeast Florida Honor Flight, along with the 133 other hubs in the nationwide Honor Flight Network, is dedicated to flying America’s veterans to their respective memorials in Washington, D.C., free of charge to the veteran. Southeast Florida Honor Flight is a 100 percent volunteer organization based in Stuart, serving Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Okeechobee and Palm Beach counties. For more information, to get involved or donate, visit: www.honorflightsefl.org or www.facebook.com/honorflight, or call (855) FLYAVET (855-359-2838).

The next scheduled Honor Flight will be May 19. Top priority continues to be given to WWII veterans and terminal veterans of any war.