report despite the challenges of fund-raising, the program is expanding.
“We were 24
hours away from having to work the phones and call these guys to say sorry, we
just don’t have the funding to make this next trip,” said Charlie Thomas, who
established WV’s Always Free Honor Flight hub this summer.
the voice of Little Buddy Radio, a non-profit radio station owned and operated
by the Denver Foundation. The foundation was started by actor Bob Denver and
his wife Dreama, a native of Mercer County.
at the very last minute a local automotive dealer stepped forward to fund the
entire upcoming trip – about a $6000 dollar donation.
gentlemen are going to get an eyeful when they get to Washington, D.C.” he said. “Most of them have never
been to the Capitol, nor could they afford it were it not for Honor Flight. And
they deserve our admiration and our respect and they deserve this trip.”
time, teenagers will be aboard. Thomas says Mercer County high schools have been invited to send
a representative of their Junior ROTC program to meet, escort and assist older
veterans on their trip.
course are looking at it as living history, which is exactly the prism I want
them to look through,” said Thomas. “You’re seeing the men who were there, and
going to be hearing the stories of what they actually did, and all the things
you see in the history book, there it is, walking, talking and breathing, right
certain there will be a lot of conversations going on between some of the older
folks and the younger ROTC generation.”
Finley, 18, will take the Honor Flight trip, representing the 123 students in
the Jr. ROTC program at Princeton High School.
I love sitting down and talking to people like that,” said Finley. “They have
so many interesting stories, they’ve lived for so long, the experiences that
they have are just vast.”
a plethora of information to give me, and even though I’ll only have a short
time with them, I know I’ll glean a lot from it.”
First Class Charles Lucas is Finley’s Army instructor at Princeton High School.
the veterans enjoy spending time with the younger people and being able to give
them some of their knowledge, but these cadets are going to gain even more from
this experience,” said Lucas.
wouldn’t be here doing what we’re doing today if it wasn’t for them,” he said.
“And for me to be able to spend just a little time doing something like that
with them or being able to prepare a high school student to be able to go spend
time with them and learn from them, is an honor. It’s an honor to be able to do
that for them.”
five-year-old Al Hancock of Princeton served 23 years in the United States Air Force, including 2
tours of duty in Viet Nam. Hancock made the first Always Free
Honor Flight trip in June.
Lord, it meant the world to me!” said Hancock. “I only wish more and more
veterans, especially the World War 2 veterans who are moving on in life, would
experience something like that.”
got to Washington D.C., they treated all of us like kings
and queens. It was some of the best experiences I’ve had in my life,” he said.
veterans who served in Viet Nam, Korea and WWII, along with some family
members, and JR ROTC cadets, will board their D.C.-bound luxury bus in Princeton Wednesday at 1:30 am. Their day will include a tour of
the Capitol and a visit to all the major war memorials, as well as the
Washington and Lincoln memorials.