Honor Flight: a meaningful connection

Life Moments column
By Christine Bryant

The first time I went to an Honor Flight welcome home rally, I was completely taken aback by what I was witnessing.

As World War II veterans disembarked their plane and walked through the Port Columbus terminal, hundreds greeted them. Those on hand cheered wildly for the vets – some of both smiling, others with tears in their eyes.

It was the welcome home many never got. After serving their country, many veterans returned home to normal life, never asking for nor receiving the recognition they deserved.

For organizers of Honor Flight, now is an opportunity to give back to these heroes. The non-profit organization honors the nation’s senior veterans with a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit their war memorials at no cost to them. When they return home from a day in the nation’s capital, they are greeted with a proper homecoming.

Though all Honor Flight organizations work with World War II veterans, Honor Flight Columbus has expanded its program to include Korean and Vietnam vets as well. The organization’s flight schedule this year kicks off April 15, with other flights planned for May 13, June 10, Sept. 9 and 30, and Oct. 21. Anyone is welcome to come to the airport those evenings and welcome the vets home.

Susan Hurd Barr, who serves as the flight director for Honor Flight Columbus,  announced that for those who aren’t familiar with the organization, they simply can turn on their TVs the night of March 28.

An episode of “NCIS,” which airs locally at 8 p.m., will center around a murder that occurred (it is “NCIS,” after all) at an event for the Honor Flight Network. The NCIS team must rely on a Vietnam veteran to provide details on the victim’s whereabouts throughout the day as the veterans toured war memorials.

While the episode is of course fictional, the storyline honors the meaningful connections established among the veterans and the passion of Honor Flight. Barr says she learned NCIS writer Gina Lucita Monreal found inspiration for the episode in her grandfather-in-law’s Honor Flight experience and the renewed sense of pride and purpose with which he returned home after his day of honor in Washington, D.C.

In addition to tuning in to learn more about this incredible organization, there are many other ways you can help. Volunteers are needed for everything, from administrative tasks like accounting and data entry, to fundraising and ground crew members, and donations are welcome.

If you’re interested in helping or know of a veteran who would be interested in flying to the nation’s capital, more information can be found on the organization’s website at honorflightcolumbus.org.

If you have a Saturday night free on one of the flight dates, head out to the airport. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Christine Bryant is a Messenger staff writer and columnist.

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