Taking off again

Two Brushy Creek Area Honor Flights will depart from Fort Dodge next year – on May 10 and Sept. 6, 2014.

They’re the eighth and ninth flights to the nation’s capitol to show World War II and Korean Conflict veterans the memorials dedicated to their wars.

The Honor Flights to Washington, D.C., were announced Wednesday by Ron Newsum, chairman of the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight Committee, during a meeting held at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport.

There is no shortage of eligible vets who want to go.

“We have enough vets and guardians for the flight,” Newsum said. “We also have more than enough for the second flight.”

Veterans who take the flight are from a number of counties in the surrounding area. Newsum said the last flight, which left Fort Dodge on Sept. 7, was comprised of vets from 13 counties.

Each county sponsors veterans from its own area. During the initial flights, only Webster and its bordering counties were included.

That rapidly expanded.

“We didn’t want to penalize a vet because they lived in another county,” Newsum said.

That policy continues, however the group is urging those other counties to help fund their local veterans.

Honor Flights are expensive. Newsum said that each trip costs about $95,000. The veterans fly at no cost, but their guardians pay $600 for the trip. Any veteran in a wheelchair requires a personal guardian, but one guardian can help up to three ambulatory vets.

“We try to maximize the vets and minimize the guardians,” he said.

In the past, each Honor Flight has taken between 95 and 105 vets. The rest of the 160 seats were guardians, support personnel and other volunteers.

Since the flights began, about 700 vets have gone to Washington, he said.

Newsum is quick to credit the community for its support of the flights.

“It’s been a team effort,” he said.

That support isn’t just financial. Each flight brings hundreds of family members, friends and members of the community to the airport to welcome the veterans back from their flight. In addition, local law enforcement, members of the military, the Fort Dodge Fire Department and many others help assist the veterans.

During their trip, the veterans visit the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean and Vietnam memorials, as well as Arlington National Cemetery, and the Iwo Jima Memorial. They are also taken on a bus tour of Washington, D.C.

Newsum said that donations can be mailed to Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight, 320 S. 12th St., Fort Dodge, IA 50501. The group is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. Therefore, donations are tax deductible. A donation should be marked to indicate which county’s veterans it’s for.