Honor Flight will send WW II vets to see memorial

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By The Staff

World War II veterans can now apply for a free trip to Washington D.C. to see the World War II Memorial completed in 2004. A local group, “Honor Flight Marion,” has been given official “hub” status by the national organization headquartered in Springfield, Ohio (www.honorflight.org). They are now ready to set a date for the flight, tentatively this spring, and are ready to kick off a fundraising campaign to raise the necessary funds.

Honor Flight Marion is partnering with the Florida Department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars which is headquartered in Ocala. The VFW will serve as the fiscal agent to allow tax deductibility of donations to Honor Flight Marion.

The project is called “Honor Flight,” a national organization to send local WW II veterans to see the new memorial built in their honor. It now has “hubs” in many local communities, now including Ocala. Spearheaded by Rose Clements, a local woman who heard about the idea on a TV show, she decided to organize a group in Ocala to send our local WW II veterans to see the memorial.

“Veterans of World War II are at least 81 years old, and are dying at a rapid rate. It is estimated that there are 4,000 WW II veterans in Marion County, many with serious health problems.

“The Honor Flight project will offer them the opportunity to take the flight at no charge,” Clements said, and will allow a “guardian” to accompany them if they have significant physical limitations. The charter flight will depart from Ocala International Airport, and once landed in Washington, D.C. the national organization takes over to deplane the veterans, transport them to the memorial, serve them lunch, and return them to the waiting plane for the return trip the same day.

It is estimated that one charter flight will cost about $40,000 to $50,000 and will accommodate about 172 veterans and their guardians, or approximately $250 per person on the flight. If sufficient funds are raised, more than one flight is a possibility. Donations from the community will be sought.

Although veterans may not pay their own way, they must apply to take the flight, prove they are veterans, and declare their medical condition. The Honor Flight Marion hub will determine which veterans are eligible. All terminally ill veterans will be given priority.

Checks may be made to Department of Florida VFW, with “Honor Flight Marion” on the memo line, and mailed to Florida Department of VFW, P.O. Box 1630, Ocala FL 34478. Benny Bachand, director of the state VFW, is treasurer of Honor Flight Marion. All donations will be acknowledged.

The local board that oversees the project is headed by Rose Clements, chairman, with Rob Clements, Katherine Clements, Benny Bachand, Hank Whittier, and Joe Lacey as board members. For veteran’s application forms or more information, call Rose Clements at 304-6987 or e-mail