Stars and Stripes Honor Flight will host 95 WWII veterans and 16 Korean War veterans when it takes off Saturday. This flight, on one chartered Delta 757 aircraft, will take the veterans on a one-day free trip to Washington, DC to see their memorials. This is the 19th Honor Flight mission out of Milwaukee. To date, 2,785 veterans have taken a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight since its inception in the fall of 2008.
Some interesting facts about the veterans on Saturday's flight:
- 111 veterans: 106 men and 5 women
- 95 WWII and 16 Korean war veterans
- Age range: 78-96
- Veterans come from 11 Wisconsin counties and 5 other states (WI, TX, FL, IL, AZ)
"Because we have such a long wait list now of Korean War veterans, we have decided to make our final flight of the year on November 2 a double flight, " says Paula Nelson, President of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. "We will be chartering two planes for that day. One will be just for Korean War veterans and the other plane will be for the remaining WWII veterans and hopefully even more Korean War veterans."
With the mix of WWII and Korean War veterans, some families are taking their Honor Flight together. A guardian from Saukville will be escorting his 2 older brothers on Saturday's flight, one of whom served in WWII and the other in Korea. Ronald Newlin says his older brother who is a veteran of WWII wasn't interested in taking an Honor Flight until the prospect of traveling with his younger brother who served in Korea. Neither veteran has ever been to Washington, DC.
A total of 224 WWII and Korean War veterans, guardians and medical staff will report to Milwaukee’s General Mitchell Airport at 5:15 am Saturday, September 21 and return at 8:30 pm. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend the Homecoming Celebration in the airport’s main terminal.
Stars and Stripes Honor Flight is also announcing that it is teaming up with Fisher House Wisconsin to split the proceeds from its upcoming coffee table book Honor Flight: A Visual Journey. The book features hundreds of photographs from 5 years of Honor Flights and will be available on Veteran's Day but pre-orders are happening now at HonorFlightBook.com.
"Honor Flight is all about saying Thank You. But sometimes thank you is not enough," says Joe Dean, founder of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. "What we realized during the process of the Honor Flight experience, is that we shouldn't wait 70 years to show our veterans how much we appreciate them. We have young servicemen and women returning from their tours of duty hurt and in need of healing. Fisher House helps our wounded warriors heal with their families close at hand. We want to help make that happen here in southeast Wisconsin. We believe a family's love is good medicine."
Honor Flight is a national program with 123 hubs from coast to coast. The WWII Memorial did not open until 2004 and many veterans are unable to visit it without assistance. According to the VA, a WWII veteran dies every 90 seconds in the US. Nationally, Honor Flight has taken 125,000 veterans to see their memorials.
Come be a part of the Celebration on Saturday
- 5:15 a.m.: Arrival of Veterans and Guardians to General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee. South end of 2nd floor departure area, University School choir to perform for veterans
- 6:00 a.m.: Begin boarding chartered 757 Delta aircraft.
- 7:00 a.m.: Depart Milwaukee. Water cannon salute on runway. 9:45am(EST) – Arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport. Board 5 deluxe motor coach buses with police escort. Itinerary includes: World War II Memorial; Korean War Memorial; Iwo Jima Memorial; Arlington National Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
- 7:30 p.m. (EST): Depart Dulles --Homecoming Preparations in Milwaukee
- 8:30 p.m. (ETA, delays happen) Veteran Homecoming Celebration: General Mitchell Airport, Incredible Visuals! Bagpipe Band, Greater Milwaukee Fire & Police Pipes and Drum; 3,000 plus family members and public for Homecoming Parade; Public Welcome!