STUART — Southeast Florida Honor Flight usually takes to the skies four times per year to bring local WWII, Korean and Vietnam War veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials built to honor their service and sacrifices. As we all know, 2020 has been a very challenging year. Not only has the organization had to cancel all scheduled Honor Flights for 2020, they, like many others, have had to curtail normal fundraising events due to the COVID-19 virus situation. As a private non-profit, all-volunteer organization, only concerted fundraising efforts can keep these veterans flying, and honored.
Enter the son of a WWII veteran - a four-time Honor Flight guardian and now guardian angel to Honor Flight - this anonymous donor has announced that he will match the first $10,000 raised for Southeast Florida Honor Flight with his own donation of $10,000. This means that any donations during the next two months will be matched dollar for dollar up to $10,000 - a perfect time to give as donations are doubled during the challenge which will extend through Nov. 15.
Southeast Florida Honor Flight is thrilled with this gracious donation and challenge to raise funds to continue to fly local veterans to Washington, D.C. Help Honor Flight meet their $20K goal by participating in the matching funds challenge. Donations can be made at www.honorflightsefl.org or sent to Southeast Florida Honor Flight, Inc., P.O. Box 1503, Stuart, FL 34995.
Besides volunteering in the community for several child, animal and service charities, such as Meals on Wheels, Feeding South Florida, Team Rubicon, Equestrian Assisted Therapies and Make-A-Wish Foundation, this anonymous guardian-donor has a rich foundation of magical veteran influences. As a child, he would rather hang out with his father’s WWII friends than kids his own age. As he put it, “All of them were involved with some type of flying, either as instructors, bomber pilots, flight engineers, or carrier fighter pilots. Whenever there was a dinner or cocktail party hosted by my folks, I would worm my way out of my room (even after being told firmly not to come out) and want to talk with them. They seemed to get a kick out of my presence and would share their stories with each other primarily benefiting the wide-eyed pajama-clad youngster before them. This was the early late 1960s and their stories were still vivid with the war being just 20+ years behind them at the time.”
The larger-than-life veterans’ stories and character were instrumental in his decision to become a pilot himself, and to also volunteer with Honor Flight. Reflecting on his purpose to volunteer with Honor Flight, he said, “To see the smiles. To see the tears. To hear the gratitude and be a witness to it all is a heartwarming experience. Honor Flight is all about and for our veterans. I just wish to be there for and with them.”
It is in the loving memory of his father and the great veteran influences in his life that this donation is given, to honor their service and to honor all veterans who serve our great nation.
Each Honor Flight trip costs $115,000 which includes a chartered American Airlines A321, motor coaches and police escort in D.C., three meals and veteran t-shirts and hats.
Southeast Florida Honor Flight, along with the 130 other hubs in 45 states in the National Honor Flight Network, is dedicated to flying America’s veterans to their respective memorials in Washington, D.C., free of charge to the veteran. Southeast Florida Honor Flight is a 100% volunteer organization based in Stuart, FL and serves Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Okeechobee and Palm Beach Counties. For more information, to get involved or donate, please visit: www.honorflightsefl.org, or www.facebook.com/honorflight,
or call 1-855-FLYAVET (855-359-2838).
The next Honor Flights scheduled for Southeast Florida Honor Flight out of PBIA are April 10 and May 15, 2021.