Great River Honor Flight prepares to embark on final 2022 mission

Looking at the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial during the Great River Honor Flight's...
Looking at the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial during the Great River Honor Flight's 58th mission.(Great River Honor Flight)
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 2:20 PM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - The Great River Honor Flight Board of Directors announced Thursday the final 2022 mission to Washington, DC, will be on Oct. 13.

According to organizers, this will be the 62nd mission for local veterans since the program started serving the Tri-State region in 2010. Since then, 1,980 local veterans who served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and between those conflicts have previously participated in this program.

Organizers reported, approximately 29 additional veterans from Illinois (Adams, McDonough, Madison and St. Clair), Missouri (Marion, Pike, Clark, Knox, Shelby, Washington and Ralls), plus Iowa (Lee) will be part of this mission. They will be accompanied by 27 guardians responsible for ensuring the veterans’ needs during the trip are addressed.

“Reaching the 2,000th local veteran is truly an achievement which seemed unreachable back when the first Honor Flight took off back in April of 2010,” said Chair of the Great River Flight Board of Directors Carlos Fernandez.

The departure and return on Oct. 13 will be from the Hannibal campus of Hannibal LaGrange University. The trip will follow the itinerary that has been so successful over the past 12 years. It includes a 2 a.m. departure for a bus ride to Lambert Field in St. Louis, where they will board their flight to Baltimore and then to DC.

The first stop will be at the Vietnam Wall Memorial. This stop will also include visits to the nearby Korea 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. Next will be a tour of DC, a stop at the Iwo Jima Memorial, and an emotional visit to Arlington National Cemetery, including seeing the ceremonial changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The DC trip will conclude with dinner at the Air Force Memorial overlooking the Pentagon. The veterans will then head to Reagan International Airport for their return flight back to St. Louis. A charter bus will bring them back to the HLGU campus for a rousing homecoming. The expected arrival time back in Hannibal will be around 10:15 p.m.

“The support that has been given by so many individuals, businesses and organizations over the past 12 years truly shows how much veterans are appreciated by so many in the Tri-States region,” said Vice-Chair of the board, Dr. Kathy Asbury.

Great River Honor Flight was started on Veterans Day 2009, with its first flight scheduled on April 13, 2010. Back then, all the veterans were from World War II. That is how it continued for several years until it was decided to expand to those veterans who had served during the Korean War. Since then, we have grown to include veterans during the Vietnam War and those who served during those conflicts. Their goal is to increase the number of local veterans who have flown to Washington, DC, for free.

To date, Great River Honor Flight, the Tri-States’ hub of the Honor Flight program, has flown 1,980 local Veterans to Washington DC since it was established in 2009. This trip will increase that total to 2,009.

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 DC to visit the memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices.

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