Transporting local veterans to D.C. war memorials

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(Posted Sept. 6, 2019)

Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Terry Mackey, a retired Marine from West Jefferson, traveled to Washington D.C. last year with military veterans from Logan County to visit the various war memorials. He was so moved by the experience that he is coordinating a similar trip for Madison County veterans.

Mackey has teamed up with Madison County Veterans Services. The plan is to charter a motor coach for a three-day trip over a weekend in September of next year. The exact dates are not yet set.

The trip will be much like those offered by Honor Flight, an organization that transports veterans to Washington D.C. by plane for a one-day, there-and-back visit to the war memorials. By comparison, the three-day bus trip offers a slower-paced alternative for veterans who do not wish to fly, Mackey said.

The “Madison County Veterans to D.C.” bus will depart from London on a Friday morning. Veterans will spend Saturday visiting Arlington National Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Iwojima statue, and the memorials for the various wars. The group will head back to London on Sunday morning.

Participating veterans will be treated to transportation, meals and lodging throughout the trip.

“The veterans won’t pay anything. They’ve paid enough, in my opinion,” said Mackey, who serves as a driver for Madison County Veterans Services and is commander of Madison County Disabled Veterans of America Chapter 19.

The trip is open to Madison County veterans of World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War era who were honorably discharged.

“Any veteran is welcome, but our preference is for those who have not already visited the memorials in Washington D.C.,” Mackey said.

The bus will have room for approximately 27 veterans plus their companions, a nurse, and volunteers. Each veteran is welcome to bring one companion. While the veteran travels at no charge, the companion must pay $250, which covers their transportation, lodging and meals. The cost is the same for volunteers.

Applications for veterans and companions can be found at madisoncountyvetstodc.org. They are due by June 30, 2020.

The cost to sponsor a veteran for the trip is $300. Mackey is in the process of raising funds to cover those costs.  So far, he has collected $1,400. His goal is $15,000. The motor coach service alone costs $5,000, he said. He would like to have most of the funds gathered by May or June so he can put down deposits on the motor coach and the hotel rooms.

Tax-deductible donations can be sent to: “Madison County Veterans to D.C.,” 984 London Rd., West Jefferson, OH 43162. Any amount of donation is welcome, he said.

“We’re also working on some fundraisers,” he added.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7005 in West Jefferson and American Legion Post 105 in London will be hosting events. Details are forthcoming.

Mackey is putting together several special touches for the trip. Each veteran will receive a commemorative hat and an embroidered shirt. He hopes to arrange for a motorcade escort for the trip’s departure.

“I’m also going to talk to the schools to have students write letters about what a veteran means to them, and then we’ll have mail call on the bus,” he said.

Mackey is traveling with the Logan County group again later this month to gather information for further planning for the Madison County trip. He hopes to make the Madison County trip an annual event.

For more information, contact Mackey at tmackey1955@yahoo.com or (614) 879-5448.

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