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Up, up and away! The first Central Missouri Honor Flight of 2022 (Flight #62) will be on MONDAY, MAY 9!!!! All systems go! After two years of postponements, we have many volunteer opportunities available and welcome applications for guardians and volunteers to help with a wide variety of activities in support of the flights. A Volunteer Fair will be held on Sunday, April 10, at 2 p.m. at the Columbia Courtyard by Marriott Hotel at 3301 Lemone Industrial Blvd., Columbia, MO 65201 for anyone interested in participating. To expedite the Fair, interested persons should complete the Volunteer and/or Guardian Applications found at www.centralmissourihonorflight.com and either email them to [email protected] or bring them to the Volunteer Fair. We thank central Missouri for its continued support of our veterans and our mission to give each of them the trip of a lifetime!!!! You are the wind beneath our wings!
We have postponed indefinitely Flight #62 scheduled for September 7 due to increases in COVID cases and the advent of the Delta Variant that is much stronger and demonstrating significant evidence of its ability to penetrate through present vaccines. We have been in consultation with our medical director who is working in the COVID unit in the VA Hospital in Orlando and he, in turn, has been in contact with several other physicians here in Columbia at Truman VA and the University Hospital, several of which have been on our flights. They all agree that this is the appropriate action.
All honor flights across the country have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is our hope that we will be able to fly later this year however, CMHF postponed flights have not been rescheduled. When we start scheduling flights, we will post the information here.
We’re often asked if someone can bring something by our office. That always elicits a chuckle from us. For most of us, our Honor Flight office is either an extra bedroom in our homes, our dining room table or, in some cases, our car. And we’re all perfectly fine with that, because any money spent to rent an office could and SHOULD be used for flying veterans to Washington. Likewise salaries. We are often asked how much of our budget goes to salaries and benefits. That’s worth yet another smile. We are all volunteers. Many of us involved in Honor Flight spend 40-50 hours a week on the organization on top of full-time jobs and family obligations. We use our vacation time from work to go on flights and assist with other events. But we would not have it any other way. For us, it is a labor of love, respect and gratitude. It is absolutely counter to our values as an organization to pay anyone to enjoy the amazing blessing we have been given to celebrate the service of our magnificent veterans. We are paid far more than any amount of money is worth for the privilege of knowing, escorting and thanking these great Americans.
The point is Central Missouri Honor Flight is one lean, mean machine. Most volunteers pay for the supplies related to their volunteer responsibilities themselves in order to save every possible dollar for the flights. We look for donations of bottled water and food for the flights wherever we can. Guardians pay their trip expenses, and we do as much fundraising (along with our amazing community partners) as our schedules permit (and we don’t pay anyone to do it.)
When you donate to an organization, you want to know that your money does indeed go to deliver the service and not for any unnecessary or inflated overhead expenses or glossy brochures. When you give to Honor Flight, you can rest assured that is the case. Actually, you are doing much more than paying for airline tickets, bus transportation or box lunches. What you are paying for is pride in our veterans’ service, smiles on their faces, relief after many years of regrets and tranquil nights free of nightmares and grief. You are supporting life-changing experiences, and you are replacing bad memories with good ones. You are investing in a veteran’s freedom, as they invested in ours so many years ago.
More than 500 veterans await their once-in-a-lifetime trip. We thank you for investing in Central Missouri Honor Flight’s mission, and we look forward to working with you to change lives in 2018!
Recently we were overwhelmed when one of our “alumni” whom we were honored to take on his Honor Flight Mission early in 2016 told us, “Thank you for what was absolutely the best day of my life. It changed everything for me. I had no idea it would have that kind of impact. But it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Now, when I have trouble sleeping because of memories of the war, which I seldom do anymore thanks to that trip, I just pull out my scrapbook of photos from the flight, and before long, I’m asleep again with a smile on my face.” This is something that anyone who served will understand. For so many veterans, their military service for a life-defining experience and they have lived with its impact for so, so many years – good and bad. Through the generosity of central Missouri, we have been able to offer nearly 3,000 veterans what they tell us is another life-defining moment. It’s impossible to accurately estimate the changes that have occurred in our veterans, in their families and in their communities. So, to central Missouri, we say “Thank you!” To our veterans, we say, “Thank you for trusting us with your safety, with your care and with your hearts. We will always do our best to ‘Handle with care.’” After all, that is what you did with our future. And we can never thank you enough.
On this Veteran’s Day, we ask that everyone take time to reflect on the sacrifices that our veterans have made on our behalf for over 200 years. If you have children, find time to visit with them about the significance of this day and how they can show their respect to our veterans on Veteran’s Day and everyday.
As he came down the Walk of Honor into the Courtyard Hotel after his Honor Flight last Tuesday, April 19, the Vietnam veteran paused midway, overcome with emotion and tears. Then he looked up, surveyed the crowd cheering to welcome him home, and in a voice full of joy, said, “Thank you for remembering!”
On the flight last Tuesday where veterans of WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War – three generations, bound by selflessness and service, sharing stories across the decades of what it was like to leave home, go to a faraway land and take on the burden to save our liberty and preserve our freedom. Early morning apprehension turned to excitement. Fear of the unknown turned to comfort that one finds among friends. The long day turned into one they wished would last forever. Is there ever enough time to thank them, celebrate them and, yes, remember them? We hear that this one day – this 22 hours spent with Honor Flight – changes lives, banishes nightmares and replaces bad memories with good. That is our hope, our prayer, our mission.
Central Missouri has made these miracles possible. In this, our eighth year in the air, we find that the generosity of mid-Missouri knows no bounds. To the little second grader who donated his $.25 of tooth fairy money to the generous gifts from business and foundations – it all keeps us flying. We have nearly 600 veterans waiting for their Honor Flight experience. So we are working as hard as we can to ensure they receive their day of celebration and gratitude.
Thank you for being “the Wind Beneath Our Wings.”
A cookbook filled with recipes from local veterans raised more than $24,000 for Central MO Honor Flight.
It’s a non-profit organization that flies World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans to Washington D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials.
The money raised from the fundraiser was presented to the Central MO Honor Flight board members at the Columbia Courtyard Marriott Sunday afternoon.
Mary Paulsell, Central MO Honor Flight President, said the money will allow 78 veterans participate in the next honor flight to Washington D.C.
“It’s all due to the generosity of central Missouri, and the commitment, and the appreciation they feel toward our veterans,” she said. “They made it all possible.”
Since the non-profit started in 2009, more than $3 million dollars has been raised to send 2,100 veterans to Washington D.C.
Central Missouri Honor Flight has announced that the first flight for 2015 will be on Monday, April 20. This flight will be CMHF’s 32nd flight and marks the start of its 7th flight season. Formed in 2009, this all volunteer non-profit organization has transported over 1900 deserving veterans to Washington, D.C. to see their memorials at no cost to them.
Since CMHF’s inception, first priority has been given to WWII veterans due to their age, followed by Korea War veterans and Vietnam War veterans. The last several flights have included veterans from all three conflicts.
Approximately 70 veterans will be on the April flight while more than 300 presently exist on waiting lists with those numbers increasing daily.
Central Missouri Honor Flight has been graciously supported by organizations and individuals throughout Central Missouri who have wished to ensure that these great Americans receive the thanks and recognition they so richly deserve. Should you wish support this mission by contributing financially so that additional flights can occur, please send your donations to: Central Missouri Honor Flight, 1400 Forum Blvd. Ste. 1-C, Box 334, Columbia, MO 65203
Since its inception in 2009, Central Missouri Honor Flight has made 29 Honor Flights to Washington, DC, carrying more than 1,800 veterans to the nation’s capital to reflect at their memorials. The majority of those veterans have been WWII veterans. The next largest group has been veterans of the Korean War. And, earlier this year, we began adding veterans of the Vietnam War to our flights as space allowed.
Since the early months of our program, we have been receiving applications for the Honor Flight from central Missouri’s Vietnam veterans. While they completely understand that their applications have been held on a waiting list until CMHF has taken the veterans of the earlier conflicts, many Vietnam War veterans have been waiting many years for their Honor Flight experience. It is now time to honor them in the same manner, with the same recognition and the same celebration that has been afforded the WWII and Korean War veterans.
Most people remember the tumultuous period of the 1960s and 1970s in our nation when it was embroiled in the conflict in Vietnam, fighting to stem the flow of Communism in a vulnerable part of world. The Vietnam War was a highly controversial issue in this nation, and the citizenry was emotionally and politically divided over the issue of America’s involvement in the war. As a result, when the men and women who served in Vietnam returned home, they were ostracized, disrespected and vilified by many Americans who – wrongly – blamed them for the seemingly endless and expensive engagement in Southeast Asia. It was a very dark time in our nation’s history when the sons and daughters of WWII veterans who had secured our liberties were criticized for answering their nation’s call to preserve those same freedoms.
Many Vietnam veterans have struggled to recover from their war experiences and the manner in which they were received in this nation when they returned home. In the minds of many Vietnam veterans, they are still being asked to answer for what our nation’s political leadership asked of them so many decades ago.
CMHF believes it is time to bring light to that dark chapter of our nation’s past. It is time to not only recognize, but honor and commend the men and women who have lived for nearly 40 years with the sadness and bitterness they felt upon their return from the Vietnam War. It is time to replace disgrace with honor and disrespect with celebration.
Veterans who have participated in the Honor Flight have repeatedly told us that the experience allows them to release their negative feelings about their military service, and replace those emotions with pride, joy and satisfaction. One told us, “You have replaced all of my bad memories with good memories of THIS day.” We MUST provide the same opportunity to the veterans of the Vietnam War.
CMHF’s Yellow Ribbon Mission will allow Vietnam War veterans the opportunity to travel together, support one another, collectively remember and emotionally cleanse their personal histories of this difficult time in their lives. None of us can adequately understand what these veterans experienced. But they can understand one another, and it is critical that they be allowed to stand together throughout this celebration of their service.
Many have been waiting since 2009 for their chance to visit their memorial and, in many cases, to see the names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall of those who were left behind in that bloody and costly engagement. We have owed these veterans this tribute for nearly 40 years; it is time to pay that debt.