According to South Carolina’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, there are about 413,000 military veterans in our state. Of these, an estimated 35,000 served during World War II. Honor Flight South Carolina aims to help those veterans by providing them transportation to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorial.
In November, South Carolina Electric Cooperatives announced that it would sponsor two flights from Columbia this year, one in April and one in May. Their donation will not only pay for the flights, but it will also allow the volunteers who assist the veterans during the flights and throughout the tours to fly for free. These volunteers usually donate $500 to offset their expenses.
The goal of Honor Flight South Carolina is to provide an opportunity for every WWII Veteran in South Carolina who has never had a chance to visit their memorial in the nation’s capital an opportunity to do so. The tour includes the WWII, Korean, Vietnam and Iwo Jima memorials, as well as a stop at Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknowns. The Honor Flight is free, and all WWII veterans are encouraged to apply.
Bill Dukes, a Columbia restaurant owner, founded the South Carolina branch of Honor Flights in July 2008. He describes the importance of volunteers, saying that at both the arriving and departing airports volunteers cheer the veterans, waving flags and banners to give them patriotic greetings that they may not have received during their years of service.
Honor Flight of South Carolina is a hub of the Honor Flight Network, which was founded by Earl Morse of Ohio in 2004. The first flight for WWII veterans from South Carolina was in 2008 and organized by the mayor of Simpsonville. Since then, Honor Flight of South Carolina and its chapters have flown about 2,000 veterans to the nation’s capital.
The 2012 flights from Columbia will take place on April 11, 2012 and May 23, 2012.
Honor Flight Network is a national non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifices. Top priority is given to senior veterans – specifically, WWII survivors – as well as those veterans who may be terminally ill.
If you know of any veterans who would be interested in taking the Honor Flight Tour, applications and more information can be found at www.honorflightsc.com or by calling (803) 582-8826.