“I needed the Honor Flight. I needed that void filled. I was finally and properly welcomed home from war.”
That was the message we received soon after HFC106 last week from Vietnam Veteran Bill Starr. He was one of 113 Veterans aboard our season finale, and one of 790 total veterans we honored over seven flights this season. Each and every one of those heroes needed their Honor Flight Chicago experience, and we are so deeply proud of our entire organization from top to bottom for providing it.
Last week one WWII, 8 Korean War and 104 Vietnam War veterans flew to Washington, D.C., on an unseasonably chilly day to close out our 2022 campaign. With their Welcome Home at Midway, we flew 12 WWII, 64 Korean War and 714 Vietnam War veterans all told this year. That’s nearly 800 lives directly impacted by the sincere and heartfelt love and gratitude you – our volunteers – bestowed upon our heroes. It’s also the most veterans we have honored in one year in a decade!
The 2022 season was one for the books! It was our first full season since before the COVID-19 pandemic began, featuring the return of the Pipe and Drum parade and the Frankfort Brass Band at Midway. We kicked it off with our historic 100th flight in April. June marked our biggest flight ever with 119 veterans on board. In July we celebrated Operation Education with a themed flight promoting our mission’s expansion in local schools. September saw the bittersweet milestone of our first flight without a WWII veteran.
Through it all our dedicated orange shirts turned out in droves month after month. We are proud to have welcomed literally hundreds of new volunteers into the family, and also thankful for those long time volunteers who returned for one final season this year after over a decade of service to our mission. You will be missed!
We now turn our focus toward the 2023 season. Stay tuned for information on the next edition of Law Enforcement Hockey Classic in March. The flight season will look quite similar to this year’s; we even start with another huge milestone on our very first flight: our 10,000th veteran to experience the life-changing honor, thanks and inspiration of an Honor Flight Chicago trip to Washington, D.C.! We’ll see you then!
Edna Ho and Doug Meffley
Directors, Honor Flight Chicago