Twenty World War II veterans, two Korean, two Vietnam veterans and their guardians are headed from Wichita to Washington, DC.
This is the first Kansas Honor Flight of the year.
The flight took off Wednesday morning on Southwest Airlines. Each veteran and their guardians will have a two-night stay in our nation's capital. They will return on Friday.
In Washington, they will visit the World War II Memorial, the Korean Memorial, Vietnam Memorial Wall, Lincoln Memorial, Dulles Smithsonian Air Museum, Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where they will see the changing of the guard, and visit Ft. McHenry. For veterans like Norval Madden, this will be the first time he's seen the war memorial dedicated to the war he served in - the Korean War.
"It's something I've not seen", he said. "We're going to see memorials from WWII clear down to the most recent involvements and it's too bad everybody can't have the chance to have this experience. I'm blessed that we have that opportunity."
Many community members and airport staff helped send the veterans off Wednesday morning and the public is invited to greet them when they land back at Mid-Continent Airport on Friday at 11:10 a.m. The support from the community is something else veterans said overwhelmed them.
"I never realized it'd be this way, I didn't give it a thought even," said WWII veteran Charlie Walls. "They share their time with us and it's just wonderful."
The trip was organized by Kansas Honor Flight, Inc., whose mission is to transport America's veterans to Washington, DC to visit the memorials at no cost to them, with current priority to WWII Veterans. Subsequent to the World War II Veterans, efforts then focus on Korean War Veterans followed by Vietnam War Veterans, honoring them in similar manner. Guardians, who pay their own travel expenses, accompany each veteran to ensure safe travel. Contributions from the public provide the necessary funding for this trip.
Visit www.kansashonorflight.org to find more information regarding this all-expense paid trip.
Additional trips are scheduled every two weeks throughout May and June on Southwest Airlines. There will not be trips in July and August, but trips will resume in September and October. The trips are made possible through the cooperation and coordination of the airlines, TSA, ABM Parking, HMS Host, and Wichita Airport Authority staff.