Land of Lincoln Honor Flight (LLHF) of Springfield commences its ninth season of flying to Washington DC when it takes to the air on Tuesday, April 11th, with 79 of our most senior Veterans from central and southern Illinois. Although this will be LLHF’s 43rd flight to our nation’s capital, it is the first and only Honor Flight for the 11 WWII, 42 Korean and 26 Vietnam War era Veterans who will make the trip at no cost to them to visit their memorials. Each Vet will be accompanied by a volunteer Guardian escort – often a son, daughter, grandchild or friend but some will be escorted by a total stranger they have been assigned, all willing to paying their own way to spend the long day with a hero. And this is not a vacation day for the escorts because a Guardian is responsible for the comfort, logistics, mobility and safety of their Veteran from the time they step into the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield around 4:30-4:45 AM until relieved of duty some time around 10:00-10:30 PM that night, after the flight has returned from DC and the Veterans have been welcomed home.
The 10 US Air Force, 49 Army, 4 Marine and 16 Navy Veterans come from 53 Illinois cities and communities of Benld, Bethalto, Bethany, Bloomington, Blue Mound, Buffalo, Bunker Hill, Burr Ridge, Carlinville, Cerro Gordo, Champaign, Charleston, Collinsville, Columbia, Cornland, Decatur, Downs, Forest City, Forrest, Godfrey, Granite City, Havana, Hettick, Hillsboro, Hudson, Hume, Ivesdale, Jacksonville, Jewett, Lakewood, Lincoln, Mahomet, Marshall, Mason City, Mattoon, Moro, Mt Olive, Mt Zion,, Murrayville, Nashville, Oakland, Oconee, Pekin, Petersburg, Plainview, Rochester, Shelbyville, Sheldon, Sherman, Springfield, Troy, Virginia and Wood River.
Once the 737 chartered jet lands at Ronald Reagan National Airport in DC, and the group is aboard their three luxury tour buses designated Red, White and Blue, their itinerary will include stops at the national World War II, Korean and Vietnam War memorials, the Air Force and Marine Corps memorials, the National Air & Space Museum and Arlington National Cemetery, including the viewing of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and Changing of the Guard. During the day they will also have an opportunity to visit or see the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, the Pentagon, and other landmarks of the Washington area.
The Veterans will return back to Springfield around 9:30 PM, and family, friends and the general public are invited and encouraged to show their appreciation to these Veterans for their sacrifices and service to our country by welcoming them home. They should feel free to dress in red, white & blue colors, bring balloons or posters, and show your patriotic spirit with hand shakes and hugs for these heroes at their “Welcome Home” at the airport. Come early, enjoy free parking and “pack the port” for this first flight of the year.
Veteran applications continue to be accepted, with priority given in the following order: World War II (person enlisted by 12/31/1946), then Korean War Era (01/01/1947 to 12/31/1957), followed by the Vietnam War Era (01/01/1958 to 05/07/1975). Any certified terminally ill Veteran should contact LLHF directly. Four more flights are planned for this year on May 23rd, June 20th, September 12th and October 17th.
Veteran or Guardian Applications may be obtained at www.LandofLincolnHonorFlight.org, by clicking on Applications, then click & print the application of choice. LLHF is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that receives no government funding or grants. It is only able to honor the Veterans with these flights to DC due to the generous donations, sponsorships, fundraising events, merchandise sales and supporting efforts of the many local businesses, individuals and organizations within their service area. Please visit the web site to make a donation, consider holding a fundraiser, book a board member speaker, check the calendar or to obtain more information on the Honor Flight mission. Also consider following LLHF on their Facebook page to stay current on upcoming events and flights throughout the year.