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In addition to being a physician assistant, Earl was also a private pilot and a member of one of our nation’s largest and best aero clubs located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. And things started coming together.

In December of 2004, Earl asked one of his World War II veteran patients if it would be all right if Earl personally flew him out to D.C., free of charge, to visit his memorial. Mr. Loy broke down and cried. He told Earl that at his age he would probably never get to see his memorial otherwise, and graciously accepted the offer.

Earl posed the same question to a second World War II veteran a week later. He too cried and enthusiastically accepted the trip. It didn’t take long for Earl to realize that there were many veterans who would have the same reaction. So he started asking for help from other pilots to make these dreams a reality. In January of 2005, Earl addressed about 150 members of the aero club during a safety meeting, outlining a volunteer program to fly veterans to their memorial. There were two major stipulations to his request. The first was that the veterans pay nothing. The entire aircraft rental ($600 to $1200 for the day) would have to be paid solely by the pilots. The second was that the pilots personally escort the veterans around D.C. for the entire day.

After Earl spoke, eleven pilots who had never met his patients stepped up to volunteer. And Honor Flight was born.

Soon other dedicated volunteers joined, a board was formed, funds were raised and that first flight took to the air in May of 2005. Six small planes flew 12 very happy veterans out to Manassas, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. Vans then transported the pilots and veterans into D.C. and to the World War II Memorial. The responses from both the veterans and the pilots were overwhelming. It was an experience that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Soon other flights were planned and made. So many veterans wanted to participate that commercial aircraft were used to accommodate forty veterans at a time, including many in wheelchairs. By the end of the first year, Honor Flight had transported 137 World War II veterans to their memorial.

In 2006, commercial flights were exclusively used due to the number of veterans on the waiting list and adverse weather conditions which prohibited small aircraft from participating on a regular schedule. Locally, another 300 veterans completed the journey during that year.

 

Word Spread And Honor Air Arrived, Right On Time

Hats Off To Co-Founder Jeff Miller For Helping To Honor Our VetsThe mission and ideals of the program began to spread across America. Other cities and states became aware of our efforts and we fostered working relationships with dedicated community leaders in several states.

Jeff Miller in Hendersonville, North Carolina led the expansion into areas not serviced by direct commercial flights to the Washington, D.C. area. He accomplished what was thought to be impossible, organizing and obtaining funding to fly an entire commercial jet filled with local area veterans to visit the monument.

This was the beginning of Henderson County’s Honor Air. On September 23rd and again on the 24th the US Airways-chartered jet was filled with World War II veterans and their guardians. Jeff repeated his success on November 4th of 2006. In less than three months, HonorAir had flown over 300 World War II veterans to D.C.!

Jeff quickly shared his expertise with others, who started HonorAir programs in several other areas of the country. By the end of 2006, 891 World War II veterans across America realized their dream of visiting their memorial.

We are proud to say that (1) all of our heroes had a safe and memorable trip and (2) we were able to raise sufficient funds so that every veteran flew absolutely free.

The First to Charter, the First to Finish...

24 Spetember 2007, Honor Air out of Hendersonville, NC and Henderson County, NC were the first city and the first county in the nation to fly 100% of their WWII veterans to their memorials.

Southwest Airlines "Grab your bag...It's On"

In May 2008, Southwest Airlines stepped up by donating thousands of free tickets, and was named the official commercial carrier of the Honor Flight Network in a joint press release. (From crappieslabfishing.com, Do Remember Southwest next time you fly to say Thank You)

It is because of this generous donation that the Honor Flight Network undoubtedly now has more flexibility, more opportunity and are now more than ever able to serve more veterans on our "anxiously waiting list" than would have been possible give the economy and the decrease in charitable contributions.

The Future of Honor Flight… Help Us Meet Our Goal

Honor Flight NetworkThe future looks bright for our country's World War II veterans. In February of 2006, Earl and Jeff combined efforts and co-founded Honor Flight Network. The leaders of various flying programs, and others interested in starting similar projects in their own regions, attended a summit in Washington, D.C. with over 100 people in attendance. Now a network of participating programs is in place to assist our senior heroes. Resources are pooled, experience is shared and alliances are formed throughout America to get World War II veterans to their precious memorial safely.

Honor Flight Network has established an aggressive goal for 2009 — we want to transport 25,000 veterans from across the United States to the World War II Memorial. The program presently has 71 hubs in 30 states. By the end of 2009, Honor Flight Network hopes to have a hub in all 50 states. Due to the senior age of our heroes, and the prediction that we are losing approximately 1,000 of them daily, we are committed to do all within our power to make their dream a reality. Our current focus will remain on World War II veterans and those veterans from any war who have a terminal illness. However, our vision goes beyond World War II.

Honoring All Our Veterans

 

Korean War Memorial - Help Get Our Vets There So They Can Finally Feel Our Gratitude - Help Honor Flight Network With This Worthwhile Mission With A Donation

In the future, Honor Flight Network will also pay tribute to America's other heroes who served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, followed by veterans of more current wars. They, too, have given so much and it's time we show them that their efforts are not forgotten.

Honor Flight Network has learned a lot over these last four years and one point that stands out is that our veteran heroes aren't asking for recognition.

Help Honor Flight Network Give Our Vietnam Vets The Recognition and Gratitude They Deserve

 

It is our position that they deserve recognition. Our program is just a small token of our appreciation for those that gave so much.

Please help us continue to make their dream of visiting THEIR memorial, a reality.
HONOR FLIGHT NETWORK — our way of saying to all our veterans — one more TOUR with HONOR.

Consider The Following:

In our first year, 2005, HFN safely transported 137 veterans to see THEIR memorials, at no cost to the veterans.

In our second year, 2006, HFN safely transported 891 veterans to see THEIR memorials, at no cost to the veterans.

In our third year, 2007, HFN safely transported over 5,000 veterans to see THEIR memorials, at no cost to the veterans.

In our fourth year, 2008, HFN safely transported 11,137 veterans to see THEIR memorials, at no cost to the veterans.

And in 2009, HFN safely transported 17,832 veterans to see THEIR memorials, at no cost to the veterans!

Vietnam War Memorial - Thousands of Name Of Our Veterans' Fallen Comrades - Help Them Get There To Say Goodbye

With the continued support of grateful Americans, by the end of the 2009 flying season in November, HFN transported more than 35,996 veterans of World War II, Korea and Viet Nam to see the memorials built to honor their suffering and sacrifice to keep this great nation free and a world leader.

If you would like to find out more, visit HONOR FLIGHT at www.honorflight.com.

They could really use the help with this honorable mission established to say Thanks Soldiers For Keeping Us Free and Out Of Harm's Way Here At Home.

 

 Steve McGoldrick

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