AUSTIN, Texas — Honor Flight Austin, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing trips for veterans to visit their memorials in Washington, D.C., is focused on a special mission for the next few months: reaching out to any survivors of the December 7, 1941 attack on the United States Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to invite them to participate in a ceremony at the Memorial commemorating their service.
Honor Flight Austin is the Central Texas chapter of a national Honor Flight Network to transport veterans to our nation’s capital to visit their memorials. The highest priority is given to WWII veterans, who are dying at a rate of about 640 a day, and any veterans with terminal illnesses. According to Honor Flight Austin Chairman Allen Bergeron, “the Memorial was not built for me and you, it was built for them, to honor them, but sadly, it was built long after their service,” he said, noting that the World War II Memorial was not completed until 2004, years after the memorials to the Korean and Vietnam War. “It boggles my mind why it took so long to honor these heroes,” he told Breitbart Texas, “to honor these men and women who [not only] saved America, but saved the world.”
Honor Flight trips are provided at no cost to the veterans, and Honor Flight volunteers are experienced making arrangements for wheelchair access and other medical or mobility issues, for these veterans are mostly in their 90s or older. The organization has plans to transition to provide the same services to Korean War and Vietnam War veterans in the future. In addition to visiting the war memorials in Washington and participating in remembrance ceremonies, Honor Flights include a celebratory element, with “Welcome Home” parties greeting the veterans at the airports after their return flights home.
Honor Flight Austin’s most recent flight, their 19th, took thirty-four WWII veterans to Washington this week, including reuniting two army nurses who served together in Paris, France during the war. Former Army Captain Rachel “Rae” Clark, 94, was able to reunite with Maclovia Cribbs, 91, who was originally from the Rio Grande Valley and currently lives in Washington. Photos from the trip, and the Welcome Home at the airport, are posted on Honor Flight Austin’s Facebook page.
According to Tanya Kinney, the assistant director of public relations for Honor Flight Austin, nationally there are only about 2,000 Pearl Harbor survivors still alive. The special trip this December dedicated to Pearl Harbor survivors will depart Austin Bergstrom International Airport on December 6th, and there will be a solemn ceremony at the World War II Memorial in Washington on December 7th. Although normally Honor Flight Austin only provides trips for Central Texas area veterans, for this trip they are accepting applications from Pearl Harbor survivors anywhere in Texas, and will make arrangements to get them to Austin for the flight to Washington. Pearl Harbor survivors are eligible for this trip even if they have participated in a previous Honor Flight.
The Honor Flight organizers have a strong sense of dedication to the American armed forces, often through their own military service or that of a close family member. Bergeron is a retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant, and Kinney told Breitbart Texas that she had relatives who fought for our country during World War II, and she seeks to “honor their sacrifice” through her work with Honor Flight Austin. “I wanted to honor my family, and that extended out to the entire military family,” said Kinney. “I want to give every able-bodied veteran the chance to see their memorial. My grandparents weren’t able to do that.”
If you or a family member or friend are a survivor of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Honor Flight Austin invites you to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-888-530-8880, or by completing the application form on their website.
For more information:
honorflightatx on Instagram
Photo credit: Honor Flight Austin.
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