Rotarians are appealing to individuals, companies, foundations and other organizations to help provide funding for Flights of Honor for World War II veterans to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
“We had 120 veterans on the first flight in April.  We have 120 veterans booked for the Sept. 19 flight and already have more than 60 veterans on a waiting list for the next flight,” said David McKnight of the Mooresville-Lake Norman Rotary Club and co-chairman of the Rotary District 7680 Flight of Honor Committee.  “These men and women are in their 80’s and 90’s, so we have only a small window of opportunity to provide these flights.  Since our April flight, three of those veterans have died.”
The Rotarians of District 7680 created The Flight of Honor as a service project to honor the lives, valor and courage of World War veterans.  “There are hundreds of the World War II veterans in the 14 counties that make up Rotary District 7680.  We want every one of them who wants to go and is physically able, to go on a Flight of Honor.  To achieve this we need the help of every community in those counties,” McKnight said.
Each flight costs more than $60,000 for chartering the U.S. Airways plane, buses for ground transportation in D.C., lunch during the day, and other expenses.  “We provide the flights at no cost to the veterans. Rotarians are contributing financially as well as providing the people to organize and direct each flight. However, Rotarians cannot meet the need for these flights without outside help. Everyone owes a debt of gratitude to these men and women who saved the world from Nazism and Japanese militarism,” McKnight said.
“Many companies have employees who served in the military in World War II. It would be a great tribute for a company to sponsor any employee World War II veterans who are still able to go on a Flight of Honor.  Anyone can sponsor a veteran for $500 and assure that veteran a seat on one of the flights if the veteran’s health is good enough to receive medical approval from the flight doctor. A family may want to sponsor a veteran in honor of a relative who has already passed away. Sponsorship will be mentioned in the booklet of short veteran biographies that will be given to every veteran on a Flight of Honor,” McKnight said.
On each flight, there is a physician and emergency medical technicians, all volunteers.  Rotarians and others, also volunteers, serve as guardians to assist veterans in wheelchairs, or using canes and walkers.  Each guardian is assigned three veterans.
“We try to make each Flight of Honor a memorable day for the veterans,” McKnight said. “It also is a memorable day for the guardians and others who go on the flight to assist.”
About Rotary District 7680 – The 52 Rotary Clubs in District 7680 are part of a worldwide organization of business, professional and community leaders that provides humanitarian service, encourages high ethical standards in all vocations, and helps build goodwill and peace in the world. Rotary is a volunteer organization with over 33,000 clubs in 200 countries. The organization initiates humanitarian programs that address today’s challenging issues, such as hunger, poverty, and illiteracy. Rotary District 7680 encompasses clubs in Anson, Ashe, Alleghany, Alexander, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Richmond, Rowan, Stanly, Union, and Wilkes. The USO of North Carolina has Centers in Charlotte, Fayetteville, Jacksonville, and Raleigh.