From left are, seated, vets Charles Shell, Carl Bultemeier, Carl Mankey, Clair Carver, and Bill Counterman; in center, Jeanette Bultemeier, Norma Miller, Charmaine Hoffman; in rear, Coni Mayer, Bob Hoffman,Bob Myer, Bill Zwick, Mark Jahn, Jon Zwick, Bob Schoenherr and Brice Sheets. (Photo by Eric Mann)
The concept of "honor flights" to reward United States war veterans by giving them free airliner trips to visit memorial sites in Washington, D.C. began in 2004 with World War II vets and will be continued on behalf of Korean War and Vietnam War vets.
Bob Myer of Allen County, vice president of Honor Flights of Northeastern Indiana, made that known at a recent meeting in Decatur of seven local WW II vets who were on the fifth honor flight from the Fort Wayne region to the national capital.
Myer also received $5,000 in donations from local supporters and said that money means the sixth one-day honor flight, scheduled for October 4, is now fully paid for. Each flight costs $50,000 to $57,000, he said, including more than $47,000 just for the cost of the airliner.
The $5,000 in contributions broke down this way:
• $2,000 from Adams Unit 43 of the American Legion Auxiliary, with all of that money coming from the sales of poppy flower replicas made by hospitalized U.S. veterans.
• $2,000 from Zwick and Jahn Funeral Home in Decatur, which Myer says has been the biggest single consistent financial contributor to the honor flights in all of northeastern Indiana.
• $1,000 from Adams Post 43 of the American Legion in Decatur, donated through the Adams County Community Foundation.
Each veteran has a younger person, known as a guardian, to help the veteran on the trip. The guardians pay their way, since no donations are used for them.
Myer added that, since 2004, about 75,000 World War II veterans have been flown to Washington, D.C. from around the nation to see the WW II memorial, Arlington National Cemetery (where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located), and other remembrance sites.
Korea and Vietnam vets will get to see the memorials to their respective wars, plus other locations, says Myer, a retired fighter pilot from the Indiana Air National Guard.
The first honor flight from Fort Wayne International Airport occurred in May of 2009 and approximately 250 WWII veterans from the area have been flown to Washington since: up to 80 per flight.
The veterans receive big welcomes at every airport they visit and are allowed to whisk right through security, which greatly speeds the progress of each one-day trip.
For more information, call (260) 633-0049 or contact hfnei.org or write to Honor Flights, Box 5, Huntertown, IN 46748.
The seven local World War II veterans who enjoyed the fifth honor flight were the following:
Charles Shell, Army.
Brice Sheets, Army.
Bob Schoenherr, Navy.
Carl Bultemeier, Marine Corps.
Clair Carver, Army. At 96, he was the oldest vet on the flight.
Bill Counterman, Navy.
Carl Mankey, Marine Corps.
Promotional photos for the honor flights have been taken by Brian Andrews, owner of Andrews Photography in Decatur, who does not charge a fee for such work.