13 local veterans join Flight of Honor
Rowan County will have 13 veterans going on the May 21 Flight of Honor, taking them to the World War II Memorial and other sites of interests in Washington, D.C.
They will be among the more than 115 veterans on the flight, sponsored by Rotary District 7680.
Any other World War II veterans interested in going on the US Airways charter flight should submit their applications immediately because the Flight of Honor can accommodate only 120.
Already the Flight of Honor Committee has booked veterans from 13 N.C. counties and 23 cities and towns.
The flight and lunch in Washington do not cost the veterans anything. The flight will leave Charlotte-Douglas International Airport at 8 a.m. and return at 8:23 that evening.
The World War II veterans on the flight from Rowan County include Harvey Edward Bogle, James Morrow Brooks, James Gilbert Deal, John Burgess Fisher, Thomas Alexander Foreman Jr., Greer Neel Goodman, David Graham Jr., Lawrence L. Lee, Robert Montgomery, John Calvin ěJ.C.î Ritchie, Grover C. Schenk, James C. ěJimî Stirewalt and Paul Stirewalt.
Brooks and Goodman served in the Navy; Foreman, Graham and Ritchie, in the Army Air Force. All the others are U.S. Army veterans.
Veterans can find the application on www.flightofhonor.org. Veterans will be booked for the flight in the order in which they are received, according to Susan Nota, veterans coordinator for the Flight of Honor.
She said any applications received for veterans who donít make this flight will be first in line for the Sept. 17 Flight of Honor.
The May 21 flight represents the sixth Flight of Honor sponsored by Rotary District 7680, and almost 600 World War II veterans have made the flight. They have ranged in age from 80 to 101.
Kelly Morris, chair of the Flight of Honor Committee, said in a press release, ěThese flights are a small way we Rotarians can say thank you to the World War II veterans for saving the world from German Nazism, Italian fascism and Japanese militarism. It is not nearly as much as we owe these men and women. They truly are the greatest generation.
ěWe only have a small window of opportunity to show our appreciation through these flights.î
Morris said 25 of the veterans booked for this flight are 90 years old or older.
Some 50 wheelchairs are available for those who need them. The flight also takes a physician, Dr. Hadijatou (JaJa) Jarra and four emergency medical technicians. There also will be one guardian who is a physician and one of the veterans who is a physician.
More than 40 guardians accompany the flight to assist veterans in wheelchairs and other veterans with anything they need help in doing.
Each guardian is assigned three veterans. The guardians will check them in at the airport and assist them in getting through security checkpoints.
Each flight costs more than $60,000 for the chartered plane, buses for transportation in Washington, lunch, wheelchair rentals and other expenses. Sponsoring one veteran costs $500, and contributions are deductible under the federal tax code.
Checks may be mailed to Rotary Flight of Honor, P.O. Office Box 495, Gastonia, NC 28053.
Additional information is on the website: www.flightofhonor.org.
ěSo far,î Morris said, ěmost of the money has been contributed by Rotary Clubs and individual Rotarians. We need assistance from members of the public, foundations, companies and other organizations to honor those who served in World War II.î
Rotary District 7680 has 53 Rotary Clubs in Anson, Ashe, Alleghany, Alexander, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Richmond, Rowan, Stanly, Union and Wilkes counties.