FINDLAY — Flag City Honor Flight, the Findlay-based hub of the National Honor Flight Network, takes off on its second flight of the 2023 flight season on June 13, bringing approximately 85 veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the war memorials built in their honor.
It is the second of four flights in 2023, the first time Flag City Honor Flight has offered four flights in a single flight season.
The June flight is an all Vietnam-era flight which is fully sponsored by the Don Templin family of Findlay. World War II and Korean War Veterans typically get priority on flights due to their age. As a result, many Vietnam veterans remain on the waiting list, some for an extended period. All Vietnam-era flights allow Vietnam veterans to move up the waiting list more quickly. Flag City Honor Flight currently has over 550 Veterans waiting to go on flights. Each veteran will have a guardian accompanying them, a chaperone for the entire day’s activities.
The flight will also include students from both Rossford and McComb High Schools as guardians.
“Starting this year, our board made the decision to get high school students involved as guardians. the veterans love it, and what better way for the students to learn history than to be on an Honor Flight with a Veteran in Washington, D.C.” said Steve Schult, president and flight director for Flag City Honor Flight.
Veterans and guardians will depart for Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport from various locations on flight day, with some veterans and guardians receiving an escort from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Wood County Sheriff’s Office, Lucas County Sheriff’s Office and Legion Riders. Following breakfast at the Grand Aire hangar, the group will depart via an Allegiant Air charter at 8 a.m., arriving around 9:15 a.m. at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
After the bus trip from the airport to Washington, D.C., the veterans and guardians will travel to the Marine Corps War Memorial, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. They will enjoy special treatment, including a reserved time and priority viewing locations to observe the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
The flight will return to Toledo at the Grand Aire hangar at approximately 9:30 p.m., where there is a welcome home ceremony with family members, friends, and members of the community, followed by “Mail Call.”
Members of the public are welcome and encouraged to attend the homecoming celebration.
“We strongly encourage family, friends, and the public to attend the homecoming celebration to thank our Veterans for their service to our country. While all homecoming celebrations are special, it often holds a greater meaning on an all Vietnam-era flight. This is a welcome home they deserve, but most Vietnam Veterans never got,” Schult said.
The Grand Aire hangar is located at 11777 W. Airport Service Road in Swanton. The hangar opens at 7 p.m. for supporters to gather.
Flag City Honor Flight’s remaining 2023 flight dates are Sept. 12 and Nov. 7. Veterans on all flights pay absolutely nothing to take the trip with Flag City Honor Flight. They are accompanied by guardians, who are asked to make a donation to help with expenses.
Flag City Honor Flight is a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and has organized and operated a trip each June beginning in 2011, adding a second annual trip in 2017. 2022 was the organization’s first year to offer three annual flights, which included its first all Vietnam-era flight. Flag City Honor Flight welcomes all WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War era Veterans from across northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan. Other Veterans are encouraged to apply as flight Guardians.