Central and Southwest Virginia Honor Flight Announces Their Inaugural Trip to the DC Memorials

Central and Southwest Virginia Honor Flight, one of the newest hubs of the Honor Flight Network, is gearing up to take veterans from our area to Washington D.C. free of charge beginning October 2018. Trips will depart from and return to at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. The hub will be bringing area veterans to the war memorials created in their honor and will be the journey of a lifetime for many who were never properly thanked for their service.

Until now, veterans from our area have had to travel over 3 hours to either Winchester, Williamsburg, or Johnson City, Tennessee to take part in an Honor Flight trip.

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World War II veteran Jim Warren, a Roanoke resident, described his April 2018 Honor Flight as a “life changing trip as it showed us that we are heroes regardless of our activity during the war. I am grateful to the [National Honor Flight] founders for what they have done for the thousands of veterans they have brought to DC to thank us for what we did.”

The Honor Flight Network began in 2005 to take World War II veterans to the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. at no cost to them. As of 2017, the network has escorted over 200,000 veterans to their memorials. Time is of the essence for our area WWII veterans. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day.

Each veteran is also accompanied by a trained volunteer guardian whose mission is to assist the veteran in any way they can—by pushing wheelchairs, carrying belongings, or simply joining in a day full of celebration and reflection. While veterans’ trip costs' are paid for in full, guardians are asked to make a donation of $400 to cover their trip costs. Guardian applications are screened and accepted on a first come first served basis.

The first trip, Friday, October 12 through Sunday, October 14, will prioritize WWII and terminally ill veterans, with Korean and Vietnam era veterans considered on a space available basis. To apply either as a veteran or a guardian or for more information, visit www.cswvirginiahonorflight.org.

Central and Southwest Virginia Honor Flight is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.  Contributions are tax deductible.

How We Came To Be

Central and Southwest Virginia Honor Flight may only be a few weeks old according to the state of Virginia, but it has been something that has been stirring for quite a while. In order to understand how Central and Southwest Virginia Honor Flight came to be, we have to first jump back to October 2012.  

In addition to my new role as President and CEO of Central and Southwest Virginia Honor Flight, I am the Director of Facilities and Risk Management for the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia.  October 2012 saw the first visit by an Honor Flight hub to the National D-Day Memorial.  This was when I had the privilege of meeting Edie Lowry, the President and CEO of Northeast Tennessee Honor Flight

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Since then, Edie has ensured that her hub’s semi-annual visits to the D.C. memorials have included a stop in Bedford on their way home. These visits continue to be one of the highlights of my year as these veterans share their experiences in D.C.—how many of them had never felt so honored before and how some of them, especially Korea and Vietnam veterans, had never been thanked for their service before until their Honor Flight trip.

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On June 6, 2014 the Honor Flight Network brought over 300 D-Day and World War II Veterans to the Memorial to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Normandy invasion.  These landings were arguably the first domino that toppled the rest and ultimately led to the liberation of the European continent from Nazi tyranny.  Although on a much smaller scale, the planning, logistical coordination and flawless execution by Honor Flight to make this visit possible, was nothing short of amazing.

Through these interactions, I met individuals such as Edie and Jeff Miller, one of the co-founders of Honor Flight Network. At their encouragement, I attended the annual Honor Flight Summit in Baltimore to raise awareness of the D-Day Memorial.  As I conversed with staff from the hubs across our nation at the summit, I learned that the Virginia hubs were in the north and east regions of our state.   I realize there existed a huge void in the central and southwest regions of Virginia.  This was further reinforced less than three months later when it came to my attention that veterans from our region were driving over three hours out of their way to be a part of Honor Flight trips organized by other hubs—keep in mind that it is just over three hours to get to D.C. from Bedford.  

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So here we are.  Our objective is to launch the first Honor Flight trip in April 2018 to take our veterans from Bedford, Lexington, Charlottesville, Roanoke, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Danville and all throughout our region who have a desire to visit the national memorials that were created in their honor.  These trips to the memorials are completely free of charge to our veterans.

To bring this to fruition, we need your support.  Share what we are doing and visit our donation page.   This only scratches the surface on what we owe our veterans for our freedom—many of whom have never been appropriately thanked for their service to our country.

Regards,

 

Martin Leamy, President and CEO

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