Organizers are preparing for Freedom Honor Flight’s 28th trip on Saturday, May 13 to honor veterans by flying them to Washington D.C., to see the memorials built in their honor. Since the organization was founded in 2008, Freedom Honor Flight has flown 2,478 veterans to our nation’s capital. The single-day itinerary includes a welcome in Washington, D.C., and visits typically include the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and other sites via luxury motorcoaches.
Eager to fly are the 100 veterans from the Vietnam Era and 5 Korean Era veterans. They fly for free, accompanied by volunteer guardians who pay their own way to assist the veterans on this “trip of a lifetime.”
Accompanying the veterans are a physician, two nurses and four paramedics from Mayo Clinic Health System and Gundersen Health System, all out of the La Crosse area. Both health systems have been longtime supporters of Freedom Honor Flight, providing the paid services of the medical professionals at no charge to the organization, plus paying for their flights. Many honor flight veterans are elderly and depend on this medical care to have a safe and comfortable experience.
The public is welcome at the morning sendoff and the evening welcome home ceremonies. Ample parking is available with shuttle service, provided for this flight by UPS employee volunteers. All ground activities are held at Colgan Air, Hangar 4, La Crosse Airport.
In the morning, hangar doors open at 5:30 a.m. A brief ceremony at 6 a.m. precedes the American Airlines charter flight, set to depart at 6:50 a.m. The popular welcome home ceremony members of the Onalaska High School Hilltoppers marching band. Hangar doors open at 8 p.m. The flight is expected to return between 9 and 10 p.m.