More than 300 World War II veterans from Dallas are on a waiting list to take an all-expense paid, overnight tour to Washington, D.C., to see the National WWII Memorial. A local nonprofit was founded on the belief that all of them deserve to see it before it’s too late.
Honor Flight of Dallas, based near Preston Hollow, aims to get as many WWII vets as possible to the monument — “their memorial”, organizers emphasize. They offer the opportunity twice a year, in May and October. Last month, 41 veterans took the trip.
“It is a shame our country waited until a few years ago to build a monument to the greatest generation,” Honor Flight of Dallas president Rhonda Ensey says.
Honor Flight originally was organized in 2004 in Ohio, and Honor Flight of Dallas began in 2008.
Ensey says money is the biggest challenge when it comes to getting the veterans to D.C. She and the other volunteers work hard to raise it, sometimes collecting donations outside Walmart.
Volunteers lead the two-day adventure that includes a bus tour with professional tour guides through D.C. In addition to the WWII memorial, the travelers visit Arlington Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans and Korean War Veterans memorials. They also spend an afternoon at Walter Reed Hospital with wounded Iraqi war veterans. Tom Gardner, who took the trip in May, called the experience an event he will remember for the rest of his life.
“Honor Flight made 35 old soldiers feel proud, feel worthy, and feel young again,” he says.
Older vets and those with terminal illness take top priority during the Honor Flight selection process. Application forms are available on honorflightofdallas.org.