Flight to Honor of Polk Veterans Council is sponsoring its fifth mission to fly war veterans to visit national war memorials in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, April 30. The flight will depart from and return to Lakeland International Airport for the one day visit to Washington D.C.

Established in 2013, Flight to Honor is a local area program modeled after the national Honor Flight program. Its mission is to safely transport area veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials built in their honor for their service to our country. Flight to Honor also offers an opportunity for the community, both young and old, to express their appreciation for the service of WWII, Korean and Vietnam veterans by celebrating their homecoming.

Flight to Honor will fly 180 veterans and guardians to the nation’s capital for the fifth mission since 2013. All veterans are eligible to apply. The flight is free to veterans, and all veterans are eligible as long as they have not been on a previous flight.

Gary Clark, Chairman of Flight to Honor and veteran, leads the charge in planning, organizing and executing these trips. Clark has been with Polk Veterans Council for 20 years and has led Flight to Honor since its inception.

“A veteran, his name was Ted, and his whole desire was to go on an Honor Flight. Ted was one of four brothers. Two of his brothers were killed during WWII, while him and his other brother came home. Two of his brother-in-laws were also killed in WWII. All Ted wanted to do was visit the memorial to validate what he had done in Normandy. Two days before Veterans Day last year, he was 97 years old and in the hospital. I went to see him. He told me not to tell to his wife, but that the Honor Flight was the greatest day of his life. He passed away later that evening.”

Clark encourages the public to donate and support these special one-day trips. Whether through volunteering for orientation, sponsoring a veteran or becoming guardian, there are many ways the public can help. He also encourages the community to welcome home returning flights.

If you are a veteran or know of a veteran that would be interested in April’s Flight to Honor, applications are now being accepted online at www.polkveteranscouncil.com, or email FlighttoHonorPolk@gmail.com.

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