PORTLAND — Coordinators of Honor Flight Maine announced that 27 Maine Veterans will be taking a trip to Washington D.C. to visit memorials built to honor their service to the nation. This trip, taking place Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 29 and 30, is the fourth Honor Flight trip to be planned and executed for veterans currently living in Maine.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. “Victory in Japan” or VJ Day occurred 70 years ago in August 1945. The Japanese formally surrendered Sept. 2, 1945. On that day, American fighting men and women finally realized that they would actually survive a war that took the lives of so many. On Aug. 29, Honor Flight Maine will celebrate their accomplishment with them at their long-awaited National World War II Memorial. Their trip is free thanks to generous and patriotic Mainers who contributed to this program.
Honor Flight Maine was established in March 2014 and joined the national Honor Flight Network on May 1, 2014. The Honor Flight Maine mission is to get all Maine Veterans of wars to see their memorials in Washington, D.C. at no cost to them.
The Honor Flight network is a nonprofit organization created solely to honor America’s Veterans for all their sacrifices. The network is a nation-wide group of non-profit organizations called hubs, including Honor Flight Maine. Honor Flight transports these Veteran heroes to Washington, D.C., to visit their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior Veterans, World War II survivors, along with those Veterans who may be terminally ill regardless of the campaign in which they served. Of all the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as both a national and culturally diverse free society, and according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 World War II Veterans die each day. The time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out.
This Honor Flight Maine trip is planned for an Aug. 29, early morning departure from the Portland Jetport, with an arrival into Baltimore Airport. The group of 55 people, Maine Veterans with their guardians and trip volunteer leaders, will then travel by motor coach bus into D.C. The first stop of the day will be to visit and reflect at their World War II Memorial. Following this, they will be visiting the Korean, Vietnam, Marine (Iwo Jima), Air Force and Navy Memorials. The group will also visit Arlington National Cemetery to witness the “Changing of the Guard” at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The group will participate in the wreath-laying ceremony.
Since 2005, when Honor Flight began, more than 139,000 Veterans have made the trip that these Maine Veterans will be making. Many of the Veterans have made the comment that the trip was one of the best experiences of their lives. A recent Honor Flight Veteran said, “I will never forget this trip,” and another expressed, “I just wish my buddies could have seen this.”
Honor Flight Maine welcomes the pubic to join flag-waving family members, friends and fellow veterans at the Portland Jetport’s terminal building to welcome home the 27 Veterans from their trip to the nation’s capitol. “Operation Welcome Wagon” is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 30, from 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and will include an indoor parade/receiving line as well as a public welcome and reception. Attendees are asked to arrive by 11:15 am and gather on the first floor of the terminal. Parking is free at the Jetport during the event.
The Honor Flight Maine Veterans have come from all across the state from Presque Isle to Kittery. Many individuals, businesses and organizations support the Honor Flight trip with transportation, financial donations and volunteer time, including “Adopt-a-Veteran” ($700) to make a Veteran’s trip possible.
Honor Flight Maine is always looking volunteers to help support their mission.
FMI: www.honorflightmaine.org, 207-370-7210, 207-240-1398.