Honor Flight Dayton begins new season of veterans trips to D.C.

Four veterans from StoryPoint in Troy visited Washington, D.C., as part of a company veterans recognition program and the Honor Flight project. Making the trip were Vicki Boone, Don Barnes, Richard Votaw and Julia Willoughby. CONTRIBUTED

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Four veterans from StoryPoint in Troy visited Washington, D.C., as part of a company veterans recognition program and the Honor Flight project. Making the trip were Vicki Boone, Don Barnes, Richard Votaw and Julia Willoughby. CONTRIBUTED

Honor Flight Dayton hopes to garner community support for some important people – World War II, Korean era, Vietnam era and terminally ill veterans – as the group kicks off its 2019 series on April 20 to escort about 110 U.S. military veterans to visit their memorials in Washington, D.C.

Honor Flight Network (including bus, RV and van transportation hubs) has transported 200,000-plus veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam and other conflicts to see the memorials built to honor their suffering and sacrifice to keep the nation free and a world leader. In addition, more than 143,000 guardians have paid their own way for trips to take care of these heroes since Honor Flight’s inception.

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For its 15th season, Honor Flight Dayton’s organizers are requesting hundreds of volunteers participate in greeting the veterans upon their return to the Dayton International Airport late that evening.

Three additional flights in 2019 are scheduled for May 25, Sept. 7 and Oct. 26. An RV trip is set for May 18-20.

“The majority of these veterans did not get much of a welcome the first time they came back (from serving),” said Andrea Kannedy, one of the “greeting” organizers. “They are heroes, and we have no idea what they experienced. Some were even told they weren’t in a war, and some were told they weren’t heroes. This evening gives us the opportunity to make up for that on any level, and it’s a chance for generations that weren’t around when the veterans came home to express their appreciation.”

In 2011, HFD started with six greeting volunteers at the gate, and that number has grown over the years. There are 130 flight/travel hubs serving 42 states.

The HFD return flight’s arrival time is scheduled for 9 p.m., but to be in the gate area when the plane arrives, greeters must follow a number of procedures. Those include obtaining a gate pass by showing a form of identification to the American Airlines ticket counter and processing through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint between 6 and 8 p.m. The ticket counter may close promptly, even if people are in line. American Airlines is performing a great service by staying open, so HFD organizers said they request that greeters be early.

Representatives and Honor Flight board members and volunteers will be in the gate area with instructions and information, and they will be available for questions. Announcements in the gate area typically take place at about 8 p.m. Ticket counter representatives will indicate the flight arrival gate.

It’s requested that military participate in uniform if possible.

“It’s always thrilling to see a young military member shaking hands with a veteran,” Kannedy said. “To the veterans, it means they are connected to the next generation. That is one of the reasons why the flight and homecoming are such a big deal to the veterans. They can talk to someone who really does understand. There is respect going in both directions.”

Civilians, friends and family members are encouraged to wear patriotic attire. Enthusiasm, cheering and sign waving are appreciated.

Since the flight does not arrive until 9 p.m., greeters can still attend the reception in the ticket counter area after the veterans deplane and process through security. It is recommended that greeters arrive there by 8 p.m.

Kannedy is the homecoming point of contact at 937-974-7268 and hfdwelcomehome@gmail.com.

To learn more about the Honor Flight Network and Honor Flight Dayton and ways to support them, go online to www.honorflight.org and www.honorflightdayton.org or contact Honor Flight Dayton, 200 Canary Court, Enon, OH 45323, 937-672-4094, hfdoffice@woh.rr.com.

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