April 18 begins the ninth flight season for Central Missouri Honor Flight (CMHF) as this all-volunteer group once again flies area veterans to Washington D.C. to see memorials dedicated to their military service. Honor Flight No. 45 could quite possibly be one of the greatest days in the lives of those veterans.
On board Flight No. 45 will be nearly 80 veterans. This blended flight includes veterans from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. These deserving heroes will enjoy a one-day tour of the WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Battle of Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. At the Tomb of the Unknowns, our honor flight veterans are quietly and respectfully acknowledged during the Changing of the Guard.
CMHF’s 45th mission departs Columbia on Tuesday, April 18 at 2 a.m., and returns to a rousing homecoming at 11 p.m., at the Columbia Courtyard Marriott. Traveling with the veterans will be a medical team as well as guardians who assist veterans with wheelchairs, walkers, oxygen, and companionship on the flight.
CMHF began in 2009 and has safely flown more than 2,800 veterans to the nation’s capital. Currently, the goal is to reach as many WWII veterans as possible. Because of the declining number of heroes from the “Greatest Generation,” the Honor Flights consist predominately of Korean War veterans and Vietnam War veterans. Many guardians participating on the flights are themselves veterans of the Vietnam, Desert Storm, OEF, and OIF conflicts. More than 500 veterans remain on the waiting list for upcoming honor flights.
The year 2017 marks the ninth flight season on the heels of a successful 2016 flight season in which eight Central Missouri Honor Flights were made to our nation capital. Since 2009, more than $3 million in donations has been raised to make these flights happen.
It costs $300 to sponsor a veteran on the Honor Flight while our veterans always fly free.
The homecoming at the Courtyard Marriott, 3301 Lemone Industrial Drive, in Columbia is a highlight! The public is encouraged to arrive at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18 to get a good view of the returning veterans and to view the inspirational flag ceremony in the hotel parking lot. Come cheer on these heroes as they arrive back in Columbia. Seeing members of the public waiting to greet them brings smiles to the veterans’ faces and tears to their eyes. This homecoming is the “welcome home” that so many of our veterans never received, and all deserved