Honor Flights: Featured Program at LHS Meeting
Story by Phil Raschke, Photos by Becky Huber
The Lakewood Historical Society proudly hosted a special "Puget Sound Honor Flight" program at it's 2016 annual meeting held November 22 at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Lakewood.
The program was presented by Jim and Renee Peavey, founders of the local Puget Sound Honor Flight hub back in 2013.
Renee Peavey stated the purpose of the organization is to allow our aging World War II veterans to complete "one last mission"...a trip to Washington, D.C. to view the World War II and other military memorials built to honor their service and commitment.
The first "Honor Flight" was spearheaded by a man named Earl Morse and took off from Springfield, Ohio in May 2006 with six small planes carrying 12 veterans. The program quickly expanded and by 2016 over 100,000 veterans have taken the flights to Washington, D.C. Today, the program has become a nationwide non-profit organization with 127 hubs or host cities in 41 states.
Peavey noted the goal of the organization is to continue providing flights and expand the program to allow Korean and Vietnam veterans the opportunity to visit their memorials in D.C.
"Honor Flights" are provided free of charge to the veteran to include lodging, meal and touring expenses. To insure a safe journey, one family member, companion or younger veteran is allowed to accompany the primary veteran, but must pay their own lodging and meal expenses. "Honor Flight" funds are made available by sponsors and donors to the the non-profit fund.
Joining the program was Lt. Col. Mel Wilson (USAF Ret) of Lakewood. Wilson is a 93- year-old World War II pilot who also served in Korea and Vietnam.
Wilson recently completed an "Honor Flight" and said taking the flight was "one of the greatest thrills of my life!"
"To see the memorials and share the new-found friendships was unbelievable" Wilson continued. When initially invited he said he "wasn't sure he wanted to take the flight", but now encourages other veterans who may be hesitant because of age or emotional memories to take the trip.
Jim Peavey concluded the presentation by passing out "Honor Flight" applications and asking Society members to give the application to an aging veteran who might be interested in the program. Waiting time from application to actual flight departure varies, but is usually under 6 -9 months.
To become a program volunteer or make a tax free donation, Peavey said folks should go online to www.PugetSoundHonorFlight.org or call (253) 303-1130.