The fledgling First Coast Honor Flight made just their third Honor Flight from Jacksonville on Saturday, September 16. The flight consisted of twenty-two honored war veterans, 4 from the Korean War and 18 from Vietnam. The men and women who were honored were treated to a unique and full day. At 3:15 am, the procession of veterans, guardians, and Honor Flight staff proceeded to board busses at the Evangel Temple Assembly of God in Jacksonville for the 25-minute bus ride to Jacksonville International Airport where their day would begin and end.
The mission of First Coast Honor Flight is to create a unique day of flying local war Veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honoring those who have served and sacrificed for our country. Each veteran is accompanied by a guardian, who has paid their own way to accompany their veteran.
After being greeted by veteran motorcycle clubs, civilians, and a lone bagpiper, they made the trip to Washington D.C. where they were greeted by a General or Admiral. After being loaded on buses, they enjoyed a police escort for a tour of our nations capital, including the World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Memorials. In Arlington Cemetery they had VIP seats to see the changing of the guard. Just outside Arlington, veterans were able to observe the Marine Corps Memorial, depicting the iconic image of the U.S. Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima. Lunch was provided by the Knight of Columbus in Arlington.
After the long day in our capital, they boarded their American Airlines flight back to Jacksonville. On the flight, they experienced "Mail Call," where each veteran received a package of mail that included letters from the Florida Governor and Representatives. But the really moving mail came from family and friends, thanking them for their service.
Upon arrival at Jacksonville International Airport, they were greeted by a crowd of about 300 grateful Americans, including the Knights of Columbus Color Corps from St. Catherine of Siena Assembly 3154. The ROTC from Baldwin FL provided the Honor Guard. When the first veterans exited from the secured part of the airport, the crowd erupted into cheers and applause, causing some veterans to tear up. Others had out their phones and cameras to record the event.
Our Color Corps was given the place of honor to be the first to greet the veterans. It was our honor to assist First Coast Honor Flight with giving our Veterans the opportunity to remember, celebrate, grieve and gain closure for the time they sacrificed for our country.
First Coast Honor Flight is limited to two Honor Flights per year due to their limited budget. They hope to grow interest in their charity and conduct one flight per quarter. Our Assembly will be conducting a fundraiser for First Coast Honor Flight in December at our Holly Ball.
At this month's Social Meeting on September 28, we will have speakers discussing the history of Honor Flight and First Coast Honor Flight.
For more photos of the event, see the complete album on our Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.155064277653980&type=3
You do not have to have a Facebook account to enjoy these photos!
First Coast Honor Flight (FCHF) is a nationwide Honor Flight Network member. Their sole mission is to take World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and critically ill Veterans (at no expense to them) to visit their War Memorials in Washington, D.C. This is a unique opportunity to show the gratitude of a grateful nation to these Heroes who made it possible for us to enjoy the freedoms we have today. First Coast Honor Flight is a registered nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with no paid employees. First Coast Honor Flight is supported entirely by generous donations from individuals and corporations. Donations are tax-deductible as permitted by law.
The Faithful Navigator and Color Corps Commander wish to thank our Historical Photographer, Mardelle Wehby for providing photos of the event.