By Sandra W. Plant
Since 2008, the Honor Flight Bluegrass chapter has transported more than 1,000 World War II veterans from the Bluegrass region and southern Indiana to visit memorials and patriotic sites in Washington, D.C.
The sole mission of this non-profit, all volunteer organization is to honor our nation’s senior heroes and to thank them for their service.
Thanks to sponsorships from individuals and organizations, every senior veteran travels on the Honor Flight for free. Many are moved to tears as they visit sites such as the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Wall and the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery.
Blue Grass Energy, which serves parts of Madison County, proudly sponsored a veteran on the Oct. 6 Honor flight. “Blue Grass Energy and Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives sponsor the Honor Flight program to show our appreciation to these veterans who risked their lives so that we can enjoy freedom,” said Mike Williams, president of Blue Grass Energy.
Williams said the veterans sponsored by Blue Grass Energy last year said it was one of the “greatest days of their lives.”
Another Touchstone Energy Cooperative that sponsored a veteran on the Oct. 6 flight is East Kentucky Power that also serves a portion of Madison County.
Why are the Honor Flights so important?
Jeff Hohman, member services manager, summed it up: “If it weren’t for these guys and the sacrifices they made, what would our world be like today?”
A guardian travels with every veteran to make sure that all their needs are met and that everyone is safe from slips and falls. Hohman had the honor of serving as a guardian on the Oct. 6 Honor Flight sponsored by Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. He said it is a “humbling experience to be with these great Americans for a day.”
The youngest of the 30 veterans on the Honor Flight on Oct. 6 was 85.
“Some are still pretty stout,” said Hohman. “But everyone on board is deeply affected when the plane lands in Baltimore where they are met by hundreds of people cheering and clapping with cadets from Annapolis lining the terminal in their honor.”
When you get to the World War II Memorial, people stop and thank them, Hohman said. They are met there by former Senator Robert F. Dole, age 89, himself a decorated World War II veteran whose combat injuries left him with a permanently disabled arm.
Dole raised much of the funding to build the World War II Memorial. Hohman reflected that there is no one the honored veterans would rather meet than the former senator from Kansas.
One of the most memorable parts of the day is the welcome home when the plane touches down in Louisville at the end of long and emotion-filled day. Hundreds of family members and folks from the electric cooperatives are there to greet them, cheering and applauding.
To learn more about sponsorships or how to apply for an Honor Flight, visit the website at http://honorflightbluegrass.org, or call Capt. Brian Duffy at 502-550-3093.