WASHINGTON — After being grounded for nearly two years, Midwest Honor Flight took off from Sioux Falls Saturday with 82 veterans on board – bound for Washington, D.C., to show them the memorials built to their service.
“It’s been a long 23 months, but the veterans’ faces and their excitement today and just the words they’ve said in conversation to one another and to me speak volumes as to why this day is so important,” says Midwest Honor Flight President and Director, Aaron Van Beek.
Midwest Honor Flight covers northwestern Iowa, southwestern Minnesota, and the state of South Dakota, bringing veterans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam to Washington at no charge.
Van Beek says, “Every single veteran that comes on an honor flight has a different experience…there’s some that came home and they were not welcomed home – there’s some that came back as victors that saved the world – there’s some that feel like their war was forgotten.”
The nonprofit spends months planning and fundraising for each mission.
“It’s $753 for every person that comes on flight – that includes the chartered flight, the meals, the bussing, the permits that we have – everything that the veteran experiences on this trip is included in that $753,” Van Beek says.
It may not seem like a lot, but that adds up quick.
“Total package? $150,000 to bring 82 veterans out here today – their guardians – and our crew.”
Thankfully, they get support from a number of sources.
“We do dances…we’ve partnered with restaurants…a lot of Legions, VFW’s, and civic groups will partner alongside of us – but we’ve also had some schools do some fundraisers for us,” Van Beek says. “So to engage all the generations in a mission like this speaks volumes to what the Midwest is all about.”
These volunteers dedicating their time to ensure our nation’s veterans can take their final tour with honor.
CLICK HERE for more information on Midwest Honor Flight and how you can donate or volunteer.
You can also catch the final story from Midwest Honor Flight Mission 7 here on NewsCenter1 Thursday night.