Honor Flights is wanting to serve all World War II vets
On September 17, it was a privilege and pleasure for me to again be present at an Honor Flights “night before departure” program. Last April, while being one of the departing veterans, it was difficult to remember all that occurred, so it was most encouraging to be present to witness the outpouring of patriotic support and recognition for those veterans, mostly from World War II (December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946), who were individually recognized by name, branch of service, residence and areas of service.
It is my recommendation that all who revere and love the United States would do well to attend one of these ceremonies. There will be one in Oklahoma City on October 7 for those in the area, or who wish to make the trip, and another in Tulsa, actually Bixby, next April. The Tulsa flights leave from Tulsa International Airport and the Oklahoma City flights leave from Will Rogers Airport using charter airline aircraft.
The ceremony opened with the procession of veterans, to a drumbeat by a drummer from the Bixby High School Band. each was escorted by a cadet from the Thunderbird Academy (or two if in a wheelchair) through a crossed-sword welcome from the Bixby Junior ROTC and a flag column by the Rolling Thunder bikers and American Airlines’ veteran group. The opening remarks were from Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, who is the Northeast Oklahoma coordinator for Oklahoma Honor Flights. He mentioned that September 17 was Constitution Day and that the Constitution was defended by those who served and were being honored. Constitution Day is the Date in 1787 that it was announced that the Convention had prepared the document for submission to the states for ratification, which was accomplished in December.
The colors were presented by the Bixby High School Marine Junior ROTC and the National Anthem sung as originally written by Colleen Thompson.
It is believed that there are about 45,000 World War II veterans still living in Oklahoma and only 1,360 have now made the trip. That includes the 82 that made this trip, plus each one having an assigned “guardian,” who gets to push the wheelchair (if one is used and required) for those veterans even using a cane.
The entire cost of the trip for the veteran is covered by donations to the Oklahoma Honor Flights.
Each veteran was introduced by name, home, branch of service and area of operation. To my surprise, my brother-in-law, Lon Jackson of Sapulpa, was in the group. He was a P-47 pilot who flew cover on the D-Day invasion but would not talk about it. On being introduced, a spotlight was on each veteran for full recognition. Each veteran was issued a shirt and cap in blue, while the guardians were issued red ones. This was to be able to keep track of them while away from the buses.
Oklahoma Honor Flights would like to take all Oklahoma veterans to Washington, D.C. There are still many who have not applied and they wish to get the word out to those who so far have not heard of this. In Northeast Oklahoma, contact may be made with Donna Lee at 918-838-1437 for more information. Another source could be the World War II Vets of Tulsa that meet on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. at Kirk of the Hills Church in Tulsa
The costs for the 2014 flights are not yet covered. Donations could be mailed to Oklahoma Honor Flights, POB 10492, Midwest City OK 73140, or by e-mail at www.oklahoma-honorflights.org. Guardians pay $500 for the privilege of making the trip. This is certainly a worthy cause. Names of Korean veterans are now been accepted for trip waiting lists.