Wednesday, October 7, 2015
North country honor flight
By Kyle Richardson
PLATTSBURGH—North Country Honor Flight flew 14 World War 2 and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials on Oct. 3, 2015. The veterans were escorted to the airport by police for their send-off ceremony at 7 a.m. and had a return home ceremony at the Oval base when they arrived back at 10 p.m.
On Dec. 7, 1941, the United States officially entered World War 2, sending 16 million Americans over to serve in the armed forces. These soldiers left their homes and families to fight in the battlefields of Europe and Africa, and in the Pacific. They are the reason for most of our freedom and prosperity today.
Honor Flight in a non-profit organization that exists to honor these brave men and woman who sacrificed so much for this country. Out of the 16 million soldiers that served, almost a million are still alive today; however, with the youngest possible age for a World War 2 vet being 87, they are passing away at a fast rate.
“There isn’t much time,” said Barrie Finnegan, Executive Director for North Country Honor Flight. “We want to find all the World War 2 veterans in this region and give them a chance to see their memorial before they pass away.”
Plattsburgh’s PRE 314 Campaign Planning and Development class took on Honor Flight as a client this year. “Right now we are trying to formulate research and come up with a plan to help Honor Flight reach more veterans,” said Evan Bowker, project coordinator for PRE 314. “Once we have gathered all our primary and secondary research, we can then come up with a campaign to reach these veterans.”
The Plattsburgh community is aware of Honor Flight and its cause and helps fundraise and donates to the organization. The annual Rotary Club Bed Race took place Sept. 12, as a part of the 2015 Battle of Plattsburgh Commemorative weekend. The Plattsburgh State Men’s Basketball team won first and second place. With a first place prize of $500 and a second of $150, the team won $650 to donate to any charity or non-profit organization of their choice.
“When we heard of their cause and how these men and woman sacrificed so much for this country, there was no question as to who we were giving the money to,” said team captain Xavier Thomas.
When the veterans arrived in D.C., volunteer guardians who can be family members, friends or nurses, escorted them the whole day. They got to see the memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery, meals were provided for them as well. After a long, memorable day, the celebration wasn’t over. When they arrived back to Plattsburgh, they were welcomed home by family, friends and the community.
“Presenting the poster to the veteran and seeing a smile on his face was a great experience,” said Sean Murphy, Plattsburgh student who attended the ceremony. “Going to the return ceremony was the least I could do for people who fought for our freedom.”
“It was great seeing Plattsburgh’s sports team coming out and supporting these veterans,” said transfer basketball player Elijah Bryant. “It’s a good feeling knowing I came to a team who gives back to the community.”
Honor Flight is having another flight Oct. 17, and invites anyone to join them in celebrating our veterans. If you know any veterans, want more information, or want to make a donation to Honor Flight, visit nchonorflight.org.