Honor Flight Chicago, the not-for-profit that has over the past 12 years flown more than 8,000 World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C., free-of-charge to visit the national war memorials built in their honor, announced today it will begin flying Vietnam-era veterans in 2020.
“This is a milestone moment in the history of our organization,” said Mary Pettinato, CEO and co-founder of Honor Flight Chicago. “More importantly, it’s our time to recognize and thank these too-long disrespected heroes who served during one of the most difficult times in America’s history.”
Honor Flight Chicago is currently accepting applications from any Vietnam-era veteran — no matter his or her duty location — who served between Nov. 1, 1955, and May 15, 1975. These veterans will begin to fly alongside World War II and Korean War veterans in April on Honor Flight Chicago’s first flight of the 2020 flight season.
“A camaraderie exists among veterans on this special day that is always magical,” Pettinato said. “To now have three generations of veterans together on one flight will, I’m confident, be an experience that’s especially meaningful to our honored heroes, and truly inspirational to witness.”
There are an estimated 107,500 Vietnam-era veterans living in the Chicago area, according to the National Department of Veteran Affairs, of which close to 1,350 have already filed applications with Honor Flight Chicago in anticipation of this day.
The Vietnam War was the longest war in U.S. history until the Afghanistan War, with active military combat lasting almost 20 years. More than 1.5 million military personnel and an estimated 2 million civilians were killed in the war. The United States suffered over 47,000 killed in action plus another 11,000 noncombat deaths; more than 150,000 were wounded and 10,000 missing.
Honor Flight Chicago flies six flights a year, April through September, honoring an average of 100 senior veterans on every flight. During a full day of recognition and reminiscing in our nation’s capital, veterans have the opportunity to reflect with their comrades in arms at the national World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War Memorials, as well as visit the Lincoln Memorial, and the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. The day’s adventure concludes back in Chicago with an airport-based Welcome Home Celebration unlike anything most of these heroes experienced decades earlier upon returning from the war.
For additional information or to secure an Honor Flight Chicago veteran application, call 773-227-VETS (8387) or visit https://www.honorflightchicago.org/how-to-apply/veteran.
About Honor Flight Chicago
Honor Flight Chicago is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to recognizing the service and sacrifice of America’s senior war veterans by providing all-expense paid trips for these heroes to visit the Washington, D.C., memorials built in their honor. Founded in 2008, Honor Flight Chicago is the largest hub in the national Honor Flight Network and has flown more veterans than any other hub.