In January two members of American Legion Post 49 and one from VFW Post 6710 were asked to join members of the two Wilmington Rotary Clubs as representatives of Clinton County veterans, for a comprehensive meeting about Honor Flight. The presentation was arranged by Jack Powell, representing the Noon Rotary Club, to explore the possibility of sponsoring an Honor Flight specifically for Clinton County veterans.
At the conclusion of the 3½ hour meeting, the attendees decided to explore fundraising and recruitment of local veterans for an upcoming flight. Committee members are Paul Butler, Fred Ertel, Randy Graf, Terry Habermehl, Patti Herron, Beth Huber, Richard James, Kathryn Markins, Mac McKibben, Jack Powell, Bob Schaad, Ray Souder, Joni Streber and Jen Woodland.
The team from Honor Flight Dayton had explained that sponsoring a flight — having a group’s name attached to a particular flight — would cost $20,000 and a typical flight would have about 75 seats available. However, the actual cost of one flight, including ground transportation in Washington, D.C., lunch, t-shirts, etc., is approximately $65,000
In mid-April the first meeting of the Clinton County Honor Flight Committee was held and an optimistic goal of sponsoring 75 Clinton County veterans — at a cost of $425each ($31,875) — was set. Sub-committees were formed for direct mail solicitation, corporate donations, media, and veteran recruitment and the committee, consisting of a few “glass half full” volunteers who decided to meet weekly until Clinton County Honor Flight was a reality.
By late May the fundraising effort was running along at full throttle and the donations were flowing in. Booths were scheduled for the Banana Split Festival and the Third Friday Party at the Mural. The committee was hitting on all cylinders and by the end of June, and the financial goal of $31,875 was not only achieved but exceeded.
The committee was in a quandary about what to do with the extra money.
The residents of Clinton County had opened their hearts and wallets to send local veterans to Washington D.C. They had donated their hard-earned dollars in appreciation of the sacrifices made by our county’s “heroes”. They wanted to provide an opportunity for these men and women to visit the memorials dedicated in honor of their military service during times of war.
“So what do we do with the extra money?” asked one committee member.
“The answer is simple,” was the response of another committee member, “Let’s sponsor two Honor Flights.”
The other members present echoed the idea for a continuing effort to sponsor as many Clinton County veteransas possible. As a result, Clinton County Honor Flight #1 is fully funded for 75 local veterans and Clinton County Honor Flight #2 is more than 30 percent funded.
With Clinton County Honor Flight #1 being fully funded, Wilmington American Legion Post 49, with the help of a generous award from Ohio Legion Charities, has been able to make arrangements for chartered buses to take everyone going on the flight to a hotel near the Dayton Airport and accommodations the night before the flight. The buses will also transport everyone to the airport the morning of the flight.
Additionally, a formal send-off from Wilmington is in the early planning stages. When plans are completed and the date is closer, the full details will be sent to each participant.
There are still openings on the October flight for WW II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans who reside in Clinton County. Some veterans have expressed concern that they would be taking a seat away from an older veteran. The seats for each Honor Flight are always filled in the following order: WW II, Korea, Vietnam. Therefore if you are a Vietnam veteran, you will not be placed on a flight until after every WW II and Korean veteran, who submitted an application, has been accepted for the flight. So if you are interested in going on this exciting trip, complete and submit your application today.
Applications are available at the American Legion Post, 140 E. Locust St., the Clinton County Veterans Service Office, 43 S. Walnut St., or from Richard James, [email protected] (937) 218-6003 and Paul Butler [email protected] (937) 283-5995.