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Honor Flights Help AZ Vets See DC War Memorials

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PHOTO: Honor Flight Arizona works to make sure that Arizona's veterans are able to visit the World War II Memorial and other important patriotic sites in the nation's capital. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
PHOTO: Honor Flight Arizona works to make sure that Arizona's veterans are able to visit the World War II Memorial and other important patriotic sites in the nation's capital. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
 By Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ, Contact
November 11, 2013

PHOENIX - America's veterans are honored today for their service and sacrifice for the nation, but there is a program in Arizona that works year-round to do that.

Susan Howe, founder of Honor Flight Arizona, which flies about 30 vets at a time to tour the war memorials and other historic sites in Washington, described her organization's mission.

"The primary focus is the World War II memorial, but we also go to the Capitol and to the other war memorials and military memorials, and also to be honored for all that they have done for us," she said.

Since it was started four years ago, Howe said, Honor Flight Arizona has flown near 900 vets to the nation's capital. The project receives no government funding, but relies on contributions from service clubs, businesses and individuals.

Howe said the World War II vets definitely appreciate the opportunity to see their memorial, but even more, the interaction with people they meet on the trip.

"They are absolutely taken aback by the number of Americans who shake their hands, who clap, who cheer, who come up to them and hug them, and say, 'Thank you so much for what you've done.'"

Howe says there's a sense of urgency at Honor Flight Arizona. The average age of World War II vets is now 90, and there's a waiting list of 270 for the flights.

"When we make phone calls to let a veteran who has signed up know that they're going on a trip, about 25 percent of them are either too infirm at this point to go, or they've died," she said. "And that's why time is of the essence."

The Honor Flight Network, which is open to all veterans, has helped nearly 100,000 vets across the country see such sites as the Korean, Vietnam and Iwo Jima Memorials, as well as Arlington National Cemetery.

The website for Howe's group is HonorFlightAZ.org.



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