Dozens of local veterans will take part in the fifth and final Great River Honor Flight mission of 2017.
The flight, which is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14, includes a unique group. It will include veterans from Korea and Vietnam, with all but two of them being from Pike County Illinois.
The group will consist of 66 local veterans: seven who served during the Korean conflict and the remaining 59 served in Vietnam. They will head to Washington DC along with 46 guardians, many of which are relatives of the veterans.
This will be the 45th mission overall since the program started back in 2010 and will continue to increase the total number of local veterans who have flown to Washington, DC for free close to the 1,500 mark to 1,484.
This special group came to be due to a request by a couple of individuals from Pike County. They wanted to see if there could be an Honor Flight with just veterans from their county and began raising money for it more than a year ago.
The trip will depart from the Hannibal LaGrange University campus around 2 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14. The Saturday departure which has become more frequent in 2017 is due to changes in available flights to DC and the need to have at least 8 hours of ground time there for the veterans to see and enjoy the many memorials they will visit.
The 112 Veterans and Guardians, which is twice the normal size of previous Great River Honor Flights, will travel by Charter Bus to St. Louis Lambert International Airport where they will board a flight to Baltimore and then on to our nation’s capital.
The first stop will be at the Vietnam Memorial. This stop will also include visits to the nearby Korea Way and Lincoln Memorials.
Next on their itinerary is a stop at the World War II Memorial, which sits next to the Washington Monument and where a group picture will be taken.
Then it’s off to the Air Force Memorial where they will enjoy dinner while viewing the DC skyline from this hilltop location.
The final stop will be an emotional visit to Arlington National Cemetery where they will see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well as take part in a wreath laying ceremony. Three veterans will be selected to represent the entire group and have this high honor of laying a wreath at this famous monument.
Following that, they will return to Reagan National for their trip home.
The direct flight will take them back to St. Louis where they will board a bus for the trip to Hannibal. The expected arrival time will be around 10:30PM at Hannibal LaGrange University.
To date Great River Honor Flight, the Tri-States’ hub of the Honor Flight program has flown 1,418 local Veterans to Washington D.C. since it was established in October of 2009.
The Great River Honor Flight offers one-day trips to Washington, D.C. for these local heroes at no cost to them. Great River Honor Flight, a Missouri Nonprofit Corporation established in October of 2009, was created solely to honor America’s veterans that live in our area for all they have sacrificed by providing, free of charge, transportation to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices.
If you want to keep up with updates and pictures from their trip, go to WGEM.com/HonorFlight where pictures and comments from the trip will be posted throughout the day.
Click here for photos from previous Great River Honor Flights.
For additional information, contact Carlos Fernandez at 217-228-6600.