The two groups are joining together to get the Honor Flight project off the ground in Pickens County.
The Honor Flight Network flies World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the World War II memorial.
“I’m very appreciative of veterans of every generation, but there’s something about the World War II generation that stirs something within me,” said Assistant Sheriff Tim Morgan. “I think it’s really important and it’s something I want to be a part of.”
Veterans fly at absolutely no cost to them, organizers said.
“It’s an all-expense paid trip,” said Betty Waldrep with Simsponville-based Honor Flight Upstate.
The Honor Flight Program was started by military surgeon Earl Morse, who saw that many WWII veterans did not have the financial means to visit the memorial themselves.
Morse then used his own plane to begin flying veterans to visit the memorial, and other historic sites in our nation’s capitol.
“He would fly one or two at a time to take them over and let them see it,” Waldrep said.
The program then expanded so much that commercial airliners needed to be chartered to meet the growing demand.
The Simpsonville program took 101 veterans to D.C. on May 7, 2008.
“Most of them said it was the highlight of their life,” Waldrep said. “They never would have got to go without that.”
Every day, between 1,200 and 1,500 World War II veterans pass away.
“These people are running out of time,” Waldrep said.
“It’s not something we can wait on,” he said.
Veterans arriving in Washington on an Honor Flight received a hero’s welcome, she said.
“It was just the best thing,” she said. “Everywhere we went, total strangers would come up and thank these veterans for their service. It meant a lot to everybody.”
Guardians are needed to accompany veterans and see to their needs during the special day, Waldrep said.
“Guardians just go along and help,” she said.
Guardians pay $300 to accompany the flight.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” Waldrep said. “$300 is a very small amount to pay to spend a day with them.”
Physicians and nurses also accompany the veterans during the trip.
Fundraising is key to make the Pickens County Honor Flight happen.
“It is expensive, so we look to the community and to different organizations to try to raise money so we’ll have enough to get everyone who wants to go up there,” Waldrep said.
One flight is available in May for an Honor Flight, dependent on how much money can be raised beforehand.
Honor Flight tries to schedule flights for the spring and the fall, to avoid extreme weather conditions.
In the coming months, Morgan and American Legion members will visit civic clubs, churches, schools and businesses to enlist their help for the project.
Morgan said the Sheriff’s Office hopes to sponsor a minimum of two veterans.
“We’re going to try to make every effort to raise funds,” he said. “We’re open to suggestions.”
For more information, contact Morgan at by phone at 898-5501 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Richard Reese as Post 11 at 878-1014 or email@example.com.