The Honor Flight organization aims to take as many military veterans as possible to Washington DC to see the memorials erected in their honor.
When the chapter closed in the Tri-Cities area, a group of volunteers took it upon themselves to lay a solid foundation for the new chapter: The Honor Flight Of The Appalachian Highlands.
Michelle Shelton-Stewart loves her country and its veterans. She and others worked hard to bring the Honor Flight program back to the Tri-Cities.
“Veterans deserve this trip,” she says. “And when the old hub closed, one of our board members took it upon himself to reach out to friends and contacts through work and formed a board.”
Honor Flight of the Appalachian Highlands was born, and the generosity of others keeps it going.
Shelton-Stewart says, “It’s amazing the amount of people that I meet truly have a heart for veterans and realize we live in the greatest country ever because of them, and they want to honor them.”
The organization pays for veterans to visit the monuments in Washington DC, and a warm welcome home when they return, something many of them didn’t receive when they came home from war.
“For many of them, it’s their opportunity to see those memorials, but it’s also their moment to honor their brothers that have fallen, Shelton-Stewart says. “And to experience it with other brothers-in-arms.”
It does mean the world to veterans who served in every capacity. Shelton-Stewart remembers a moving conversation on the first honor flight trip.
She remembers, “One of the veterans said, ‘I don’t deserve this trip, because it wasn’t boots-on-the-ground. I served as a logistics officer. So I didn’t deserve this trip.’ One of our Vietnam Infantry officers spoke up and said, ‘You deserve this trip. Because we were boots-on-the-ground, but without you, we couldn’t have done what we did.’ So, it takes us all.”
A trip that brings memories, and possibly some closure for a life-changing time for so many who served.
Honor Flight of the Appalachian Highlands has trips planned for April and May and October of next year.