It will be wheels up for the last time this October when the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight holds its final flight to honor World War II veterans.
The organization announced that Honor Flight VI will depart from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.
The flight gives World II veterans from Mississippi a chance to visit the nation’s capitol for a day and meet the state’s congressional delegation at the National World War II Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial and other landmarks.
Beginning with its inaugural flight in May, 2011, MGCHF has made five trips, and taken 431 veterans to visit the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. The October flight will fulfill the group’s original goal of six flights and honoring at least 500 veterans with the free trip to see their memorial.
The tour concludes at Arlington National Cemetery and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with a viewing of the changing of the guard and a wreath-laying by Mississippi veterans.
The public is asked to help spread word to WWII veterans across the state. Applications are now being accepted and WWII veterans from anywhere in Mississippi are urged to apply. Additional information and applications are available online at the organization’s website, www.mgchonorflight.org or by mail to P.O. Box 1912 Gautier, MS 39553.
Churches, veterans’ organizations, friends and family members of Mississippi’s WWII veterans are encouraged to help get information and applications to the veterans.
Fundraising is also underway toward the roughly $90,000 needed for the event which includes a chartered plane, rental of tour buses and tour guides in Washington, meals and supplies, shirts and hats and other souvenir items and pre-flight orientation for each veteran. For the entire trip, everything is provided absolutely free of charge to the honored veterans. According to spokesperson Wayne Lennep, it is truly a well-deserved “day of honor and appreciation” for our heroes of the “Greatest Generation” and every effort is made to show the veterans our utmost gratitude and give them an experience they will never forget.”
The group also hopes to raise enough funding to provide the veterans and their spouses from all six flights with memorable, final “Grand Reunion Gala” in November. The venue for the event is still undetermined but plans are underway for dinner program with video and slideshow presentations of the veterans from all flights along with a memorial video and remembrance of those who have passed away since the program began. There also plans for a WWII era canteen-style dinner show with entertainment provided by WINGS Performing Arts of the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center. 700 to 1000 people are expected to attend. Monies raised will allow for the event will be free to the WWII veterans and their spouse or guest. According to Lennep, it will be a fitting final “Thank you” from the people of Mississippi to our WWII heroes.
MGC Honor Flight is a nonprofit program sponsored in partnership with Kiwanis Division 14 Foundation. Donations may be mailed to MGC Honor Flight Program c/o Kiwanis Division 14 Foundation 2000 24th Avenue, Gulfport, MS 39501. Contributions to the MGC Honor Flight program will be received and administered by the Kiwanis Foundation and will be dedicated solely to the Honor Flight program. Additional information about corporate sponsorships is also available online at www.mgchonorflight.org
A joint statement from the Board members of MS Gulf Coast Honor Flight: “We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the good people of Mississippi for the generosity they have shown by supporting this program to honor our WWII veterans over the past two and a half years. We ask for your continuing support for this one last mission to- as we have said of previous flights, help re-write this final chapter of the lives of our WWII veterans. The Greatest Generation deserves nothing less!”