Honor Flight reception Saturday

Published 9:28 pm Thursday, April 16, 2009

Although the World War II veterans participating in the Covington Regional Honor Flight will not leave until May 2, this Saturday’s reception will serve as their official “going-away” ceremony, CHRF board president Tonitta Sauls said Thursday.

“The veterans will be leaving Covington County on May 2 at around 3 a.m., so it wouldn’t really be possible to have a departure celebration at that time,” she said. “This event Saturday is a great chance for people to come and meet the veterans and maybe learn a little more about the flight and what’s going to happen on the flight.”

The reception will be Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College MacArthur campus in Opp.

Sauls said the reception will also serve as an orientation for the veterans, staff and media members who will be making the trip to Washington, D.C., in May.

“First of all, the primary meeting purpose (Saturday) is an orientation for the veterans and their guardians, and anybody else who is going,” Sauls said. “Our regional director, who is affiliated with the Honor Flight Network, will come to preside over that orientation. The first part of the meeting will be him going over the things that we need to know, and also what the veterans need to know.”

Refreshments will be served following the reception, and the public will have the opportunity to meet the nearly 40 World War II veterans who will travel to Washington, D.C., to visit the World War II Veterans Memorial.

“Anyone is welcome to come and listen to the orientation, as well as take part in the reception,” Sauls said. “I think it will be a good thing to have people more knowledgeable about the event and what exactly is going to take place.”

Last Wednesday, 75 people were scheduled to take the flight, including 38 World War II veterans. Sauls said the number is still “fluid.”

“It’s kind of a moving target,” she said. “I get calls everyday about people wanting to get added to the list. Some of the veterans have had medical issues come up, and may have to cancel, and we’ve already got some other people who are on standby. Right now it’s full, but like I said, that could change at just about any point. But as far as it looks right now, we’ll have all 75 seats filled.”

Future honor flights are planned, including one possibly as early as the fall, which would include Korean War veterans as well as those who served in World War II.

Those who are veterans of either war, or know a veteran of either war who is interested in applying for a seat on any honor flight, may pick up an application at the Andalusia Area Chamber of Commerce office, contact Sauls at 334-493-3070, or contact any other CRHF board members, including Greg White, Pam Steele, Dwight Mikel, Robert Williamson and Ashley Eiland.

Those who wish to contribute to the travel expense may send tax-deductible contributions to: CRHF, c/o Covington County Commission, P.O. Box 188, Andalusia, AL 36420.