SPRINGFIELD -- Land of Lincoln Honor Flight (LLHF), serving central and southern Illinois, will take their final Honor Flight for 2017 on Tuesday, Oct. 17, departing from Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport.
On board this LLHF Flight No. 47 to Washington, D.C., will be six World War II, 10 Korean War and 66 Vietnam War-era veterans, all excited to visit and reflect with their comrades at their national memorials. But before this happens, many of these 12 Air Force, 50 Army, three Marines and 17 Navy vets, along with their guardians, family or friends, will have enjoyed a pre-flight dinner in their honor the night before at the VFW Northenders Post in Springfield.
Arriving at the airport Tuesday morning between 4-4:15 a.m., along with their guardians, will be the 82 veterans, having traveled from the 52 cities and communities of Belleville, Bunker Hill, Carlinville, Carlyle, Charleston, Chatham, Collinsville, Concord, Cowden, Danville, Decatur, East Alton, Effingham, El Paso, Flat Rock, Girard, Greenup, Heyworth, Jacksonville, Kenney, Kincaid, Lawrenceville, Lerna, LeRoy, Lincoln, Lovington, Martinton, Mason, Melvin, Moweaqua, Mt Pulaski, Mt Vernon, Naples, Newman, Oakley, Oconee, Palestine, Pana, Penfield, Peoria, Petersburg, Philo, Rochester, Shelbyville, Sherman, Springfield, Taylorville, Teutopolis, Tolono, Trilla, Urbana and even Turkey Village, Arkansas.
Upon arrival at Ronald Reagan National Airport in DC, they will be met by three luxury tour buses designated Red, White and Blue for the day. Their most important stops will be at the World War II, Korean and Vietnam War memorials, as well as Arlington National Cemetery for the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.
They will also have the opportunity to visit or view the White House from the south lawn, the Capitol Building from the Mall, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the National Air & Space Museum (at Chantilly, Virginia), the Pentagon (where the airplane hit on 9-11) and the Air Force Memorial.
The Marine Memorial is under renovation and has scaffolding surrounding it so the veterans may just get a glimpse of it, along with much more to see in the Washington, D.C. area.
The return to Springfield’s airport is planned to arrive at 9 p.m. (half-hour earlier than normal) and with this being the last flight of the season, the general public, along with friends and family, are encouraged to “pack the port” to welcome home these heroes.
Come early, and all are encouraged to wear red, white and blue patriotic colors, bring balloons, posters, small U.S. flags, etc., to show your appreciation and support to these veterans who served and sacrificed so much for the country.
Veteran applications continue to be accepted, with flight priority given in the following order: World War II (person enlisted by 12/31/1946), then Korean War Era (01/01/1947 to 12/31/1957), followed by the Vietnam War Era (01/01/1958 to 05/07/1975). Any certified terminally ill veteran should contact LLHF directly.
Veteran or guardian applications may be obtained at www.LandofLincolnHonorFlight.org by clicking on Applications, then click and print the application of choice. LLHF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that receives no government funding or grants. It is only able to honor the veteran with a trip to D.C. due to the generous donations, sponsorships, fundraising events, merchandise sales and supporting efforts of the many local businesses, individuals and organizations within their service area.
Visit the website to make a donation, consider holding a fundraiser, book a board member speaker, check the calendar or to obtain more information on the Honor Flight mission. Also consider following LLHF on their Facebook page to stay current on upcoming events and future flights.