PHOENIX – A Valley nonprofit group that provides American war heroes with free trips to Washington, D.C., to visit their memorials will reach a major milestone this week.
Honor Flight Arizona will depart on its 100th trip Tuesday, the first of four flights scheduled from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport during the organization’s fall season.
The landmark excursion will include a group of Korean War and Vietnam War veterans from across service branches as well as two World War II veterans.
“[It’s] a real treat for us to have two World War II veterans in their late 90s aboard tomorrow,” Rick Hardina, president of Honor Flight Arizona, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Monday.
On Tuesday, September 12, we will begin our Fall 2023 flying season with a special first flight. It will be the 100th trip for our hub, which has flown nearly 2,800 #WWII, #KoreanWar, and #VietnamWar Veterans from @PHXSkyHarbor to Washington, D.C. to see their memorials. 1/5 pic.twitter.com/432EIBIp28
— Honor Flight Arizona (@HonorFltAZ) September 8, 2023
Hardina said that out of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, only one out of every 100 is still living.
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Who will be part of Honor Flight Arizona’s 100th trip?
Tuesday’s travel party will be twice as large as a typical Honor Flight Arizona group, with more than 100 participants, including veterans, guardians, trip leaders and medics.
“We take them to all the major memorials, including, which is really amazing, the changing of the guard at Arlington,” Hardina said.
The guardians, who are often the sons or daughters of the veterans, have to pay their own way.
“But we get the word back constantly [that] it’s the trip of a lifetime for both, and that they never forget it,” Hardina said.
What about other Honor Flight Arizona trips?
Honor Flight Arizona, part of the nationwide Honor Flight Network, has been providing WWII, Cold War, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans with excursions to Washington since 2009.
After this week’s outing, there are three more three-day trips scheduled for the fall: Sept. 26-28, Oct. 11-13 and Oct. 24-26.
War veterans and their loved ones can find information about joining a trip to Washington at the group’s website.
“Whenever you see a cap out there with one of those wars listed, be sure to help get them to our website and we’ll get them to their memorials,” Hardina said.
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