As a nation, we owe a debt to those who served during WWII, known as ‘the greatest
generation,’ the Korean War and Vietnam War, that we can never repay. The young men who
defended our country, the families who awaited their return at home, and our allies during
those times in history are the best among us and sadly, with WWII veterans, there aren’t many
left. Honoring those who remain is important and the Triad Honor Flight does that by flying
veterans to see the monuments in Washington, DC, erected in their honor and in memory of
those lost in war.
Giving Back to Those Who Gave So Much
The National World War II Memorial opened in 2004, but for many of those veterans, getting to
the memorial wasn’t easy. Retired Air Force Captain Earl Morse, at that time a physician
assistant in Springfield, OH, noticed that patients who served in WWII loved talking about the
new Memorial, but were constrained from seeing it by their age, health, and finances.
In early 2005, Captain Morse flew several veterans in his own plane to see their Memorial and
the tremendous impact that trip had on those veterans inspired Captain Morse to recruit other
pilots to do the same. He took his idea to the Wright Patterson Air Force Base Flying Club, with
11 pilots immediately signing up, and with that, the Honor Flight was launched. Within a year,
there was a growing list of WWII veterans, prompting Honor Flight to begin flying on
commercial airlines to accommodate as many as possible. As of today, 1,300 Triad-based WWII
veterans have been honored with a flight to our nation’s capital.
In 2020, a new hub of the Honor Flight network was formed by Alison Huber, passionate about
honoring those who have served. Alison had a unique opportunity to fly to DC to meet her dad,
who was being honored on an Honor Flight from Ohio. Alison returned from her trip feeling
that it had changed her life and so she began the arduous task of reforming Triad Honor Flight
Hub, which had been dormant for several years. After many months, days, and hours with a
team of volunteers, the group received their sanction from Honor Flight National and were
awarded a non-profit (c)(3) designation to serve those who fought in WWII, the Korean War,
and Vietnam, between the ages of 65-100.
Jackie Kohler, of Triad Honor Flights Board of Directors, said, “Those who served are very dear
to me. I am the granddaughter of a WWI veteran, serving in the Italian Army, the daughter of a
career Naval officer, with 30 years of service, and the widow of a retired Navy Commander with
33 years of service, and am an Army veteran myself, as well as, the mother of two combat
wounded/medically retired Marines with multiple tours in Iraq. I believe there is no greater
honor than to give back to those who have given so much to our country so we may remember
that we live in ‘The home of the free because of the brave.’” The Triad Honor Flight made their
first trip to Washington, DC, on November 11, 2021, Veterans Day, with 90 veterans and 90
guardians, along with medical staff.
A Day to Remember
On the day of the flight, the veterans fly to Washington, DC, with their guardians, medical staff,
and a tour guide. The group travels with a police escort through the city to visit the War
memorial, erected in their honor. “Many of our vets haven’t ever been to Washington, DC.
Since we have veterans from several wars, we spend time at each of the memorials honoring
the individual war, then we have a catered lunch, lay wreaths, and celebrate these wonderful
men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States military, whether it be in
times of war or peace,” said Jackie. There are so many memories made during Honor Flight trips
and veterans say their time in Washington, DC was ‘the trip of a lifetime.’
To make these trips possible, donations are needed, as are volunteers. “Veterans fly for free;
there is a cost for guardians of $600. We currently have a waiting list of several hundred people
who want to be guardians and an equal number of veterans waiting for a seat. Our second
flight was on April 27, 2022 and the third will be on October 12, 2022. Veterans can be
sponsored for a donation of $600, which covers the cost of the flight, insurance, and the day in
DC,” Jackie commented.
Triad Honor Flight welcomes both donations/sponsorships, as well as donations from the
private sector, and all funds are used exclusively for the Honor Flight. There are no salaries paid
to the Board Members, staff, or volunteers.
If you would like more information on Triad Honor Flight, visit www.TriadHonorFlight.org.