On Tuesday, May 7, a group of 80 WWII Veterans will gather for a day trip of a lifetime to see their World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. with Honor Flight of West Central Florida.
The trip, which includes 80 guardians who are each assigned to a WWII Veteran for the day is part of a larger campaign to get all of the local WWII Veterans to D.C., but the clock is ticking. At the end of WWII, in 1945, many of these Veterans were 17-years-old and went straight to boot camp from high school. Today, the youngest of them is 85 and the average age is 90.
The memorial took 67 years to build and give a respectful representation to the 400,000 American lives lost in the war and none of the Veterans on the Honor Flight have ever seen it.
“These are the men and women who fought for our freedom 68 years ago,” describes Honor Flight president and Valrico resident, James Haake, a retired Army Veteran. Honor Flight of West Central Florida (WCF), is entirely volunteer run, and has already taken 543 World War II Veterans to Washington D.C. in just two years. Currently, more than 500 WWII Vets are on the waiting list for the opportunity to fly. E
ach charter flight can accommodate about 75-80 veterans, along with 75-80 guardians and support crew and each flight needs $25,000 in corporate donations to get off the ground.
In addition to the donation, guardians pay $400 each for the day trip which includes all airfare, meals and expenses and helps offset the costs for the Veterans. Flights leave Tampa at 6 a.m. to fly the Vets to D.C. where they take a photo at Arlington National Cemetery and the Iwo Jima Memorial, then a one-hour stop at the World War II Memorial with a final stop at the Lincoln, Korea and Vietnam memorials before a return trip to the airport and home the same night.
As of today, Honor Flight of WCF, a two-year old organization, has flown more than 543 WWII vets and their guardians to D.C. The urgency is that if a WWII Vet was 17-years-old in 1945, they are a minimum of 85-years-old today. Although wheelchairs are available, it is a better experience if the vets are mobile.
“We need to get these Vets up to D.C. for this once-in-a-lifetime experience and the time is now.” To get involved in Honor flight or donate to a flight or sign up to be a guardian, visit www.honorflightwcf.org.
Businesses supporting the Brandon Business, May 7 Flight include: Sammy Sullivan Charities, Volusia Honor Air Mosaic Wal-Mart Bloomingdale Square Wal-Mart Causeway Blvd. William Belton DMD Benjamin Mena, Run For A Cause Chick-fil-A Lake Brandon Village & Westfield Brandon Paul & Tammy Holmberg Osprey Observer Newspapers Dynamic Painting USA Kids ‘R’ Kids Circa FishHawk & Valrico FishHawk Barbershop.

WWII Veterans Welcome Home – Honor Flight
Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 8:30pm
St Pete-Clearwater International Airport

Honor Flight of West Central Florida is taking 80 WWII Veterans to Washington DC for the day to visit the Memorials that honor them and their service to our country. Please join us for a hero’s welcome home as our Veterans return to the St Pete-Clearwater International Airport that evening. The welcome home celebration will be in the baggage claim facility. The public is invited to attend this free event. For more information on Honor Flight in the Tampa Bay Area go to www.HonorFlightWCF.org or call 727 498-6079.

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Marie is the Managing Editor at the Osprey Observer. She covers news, transportation, education and likes to make a positive impact on the community and be 'in the know'!