June 3, 2017 – Washington Co., WI – Five veterans from Washington County will be aboard the next Stars and Stripes Honor Flight including Korean War Air Force jet mechanic Chuck Campbell of Jackson, WWII Marine Ralph Simoneau of Germantown, and three Korean War veterans from West Bend Richard Klumb, Gus Szalewski and Steve Zacher.
The Friday, June 9 flight will be the organization’s 40th “mission” to take off for our nation’s capital. In addition, that day the organization will welcome the 5,000th veteran that the organization will fly to Washington DC since the program began in 2008.
“We are thrilled to welcome our 5000th local veteran to their Stars and Stripes Honor Flight,” said Paula Nelson, president of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. “The support of this community for our mission and our veterans has been overwhelming.”
The Sun Country Airlines 737-800 aircraft will depart Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport at approximately 7:00 a.m., bound for Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC with 76 southeastern Wisconsin veterans on board. Once the flight lands, the veterans will tour the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Iwo Jima/Marine Corps Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall, and more. The day will also include viewing the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
Veterans who will be taking their Honor Flight on June 9 include a Marine drill sergeant who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, a Marine who fought on Iwo Jima, a Korean War special forces veteran and a Vietnam War chaplain who conducted services in bunkers during the 77-day siege at Khe Sanh. On board the plane will be nine WWII veterans, 63 Korean War veterans and four Vietnam War veterans.
“It is our honor and privilege to take these local heroes to Washington DC,” Nelson said. “So many of our oldest veterans have never been thanked for their incredible service to our country so many years ago. We need to not only thank and honor them before it is too late to do so; we also need to reassure them that their service and sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
Prior to the June 9 flight, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight flew 4,997 local veterans on these trips to Washington, DC since 2008, and has honored 50 veterans locally who were not able to fly. As an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff and no offices, the organization is proud to share that $.98 of every donated dollar goes directly to flying and honoring veterans.
Future Stars and Stripes Honor Flights for 2017 will take place on Saturday, Sept. 16, Saturday, Oct. 14 and Saturday, Nov. 4.
Honor Flight is a national program with more than 130 hubs from coast to coast. The WWII Memorial did not open until 2004 and many veterans are unable to visit Washington DC without assistance. The average age of a WWII veteran is 92 years old, and only five years separate the average WWII veteran from the average Korean War veteran. Nationally, hubs in the Honor Flight network have taken well over 150,000 veterans to see their memorials.
Timeline of activities for the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight:
5:00 am –Veterans and their guardians check in at Mitchell Airport’s main concourse 6:00 am – National Anthem and boarding entertainment by members of West Allis’ Crosstown Harmony Chorus
7:00 am – Flight departs for Reagan National Airport, water cannon salute on runway
9:30 am (ET) – Flight arrives at Reagan National Airport, load buses for DC tour
7:30 pm (ET) -Return to Reagan Airport, load plane for departure back to MKE
9:30 pm (CT, approximate) Return flight lands at Mitchell Airport, veterans deplane for parade through the airport’s main concourse.