Honor Flight Network
Volunteers Rae Tianen and Rick Hardina

ImageIn May of 2005 six small privately owned airplanes left Springfield, Ohio headed for the Washington D.C. area. On board were twelve World War II veterans on their way to see their own newly completed WW II Memorial. This was the start of something big … The Honor Flight Network.

This flight of six small aircraft was not only a beginning … it was the result of a year long effort by retired Air Force captain Earl Morse. When the WW II Memorial was completed in May 2004, Earl was working as a physician’s assistant for the Veterans Affairs Department in a small clinic in Ohio. He asked all of his WW II veteran patients if they were going to visit the new memorial. All wanted to go. On subsequent visits to the clinic Earl discovered that none of his patients had made the trip. They lacked the funds and the physical ability to go on their own. Volunteers from a local flying club were recruited and the logistics of making that first trip in May 2005 were secured.

From that small beginning the Honor Flight Network has grown. There are now 115 Honor Flight hubs in 40 states. Southwest Airlines is the official airline of Honor Flight and has donated about $1.8 Million in discounts and free tickets. To-date 81,348 World War II veterans have taken the three-day Honor Flight trip at no cost to themselves.

Each veteran is accompanied by one individual called a guardian. This is often a son, a daughter or a grand child. The day in Washington D.C. is exiting, emotional and exhausting. In addition to visiting the new WW II Memorial, stops are made at the Iwo Jima, Korean and Vietnam Memorials; and even a stop at the Capital is included.

Our speakers, Rae Tianen and Rick Hardina, have recently returned from an Honor Flight trip and brought with them three local World War II veterans and their wives. Lou Smith, Paul Skull and Rudy Vidmar were all aviators who had been shot down and spent much of the war as POWs.


Lou Smith - Paul Skull - Rudy Vidmar