Written by Gregory Giaconelli Friday, 30 August 2013 00:00
Honor Flight Long Island is looking for men and women who have proudly served their country during WWII. The next scheduled flight for WWII veterans will take flight in just one more month.
Honor Flight Long Island is part of a national, non-profit organization called Honor Flight, which was established in 2004 and made to honor American veterans for their sacrifices. Our nation’s heroes will be paired up with a volunteer guardian, who will escort them on a flight to Baltimore and then on a bus to Washington, D.C.to visit the memorial that is built in their honor. The trip is free and is also a day to remember for the soldiers who fought bravely and helped keep our country safe and strong. “I can’t express what this generation has done for us,” said Honor Flight Long Island President Chris Cosich. “These guys were all together and had amazing stories to tell.” They also paid tribute to those who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
HFLI operates on donations from organizations and individuals locally and regionally. The guardians pay their own way and donations are made to escort the veterans. They strive to make everything possible to provide for the veterans. Everything they receive is for free from the flights to bus services to meals. Depending on the flight, HFLI charter between 35 and 70 veterans. However, they could use from 60 to 120 guardians to assist the veterans. Guardians must be physically fit to help most of the veterans because many of them cannot get around on their own. The oldest member that was brought down was at age 97 while the youngest was 87. “We don’t discriminate against any veterans,” said Cosich. “Whether it is age 87 or 97, it doesn’t matter; the Honor Flight is a thank you they deserve.”
Commission Officer Reginald Ballantyne, who served in Italy for four years, took the time to explain his tours during the war. He even gave his take on what he sees now in what goes on with our forces in present time. “In our time, we were brought up and we did not question our duties,” explained Ballantyne. “I think it’s awful today that soldiers are sent back 2 or 3 times overseas.” Ballantyne was very happy when he went to the memorial in Washington and had nothing but wonderful things to say about this special day.
“Honor Flight was very prepared and organized in recognizing the veterans who served in World War II,” said Ballantyne. “It’s very moving and brings you to tears; when you think of World War II, it brings us together.”
The next flight is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 28. This flight is full now but there is a waiting list. They will also take off again in the spring 2014 but those flights. If you are interested or know of someone who was a veteran and has not yet visited the memorial, submit your application so your name can be added to the waiting list. Also check for flights through the national website at www.honorflight.org or www.honorflightlongisland.org.