Honor Flight funds to benefit community projects
LUVERNE -- A trio of veterans-related projects will benefit from nearly $11,000 remaining in the fundraising kitty after Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota officially closed its hub earlier this month.
Jane Wildung-Lanphere, one of the individuals who spearheaded the Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota program that flew more than 435 area World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., said Monday that $3,600 checks were sent to the Freedom Veterans Memorial project in Worthington, the Herreid Military Museum in Luverne and the Pipestone Honor Flight Committee for community projects honoring veterans.
The money was left over from the countless donations made to Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota to complete four flights to the nation's capital and provide World War II veterans with a tour of the memorial built in their honor. Lanphere said there was uncertainty as to the final costs for the fourth flight, which is why the group continued its fundraising efforts right up to the flight.
There was a considerable cost increase from the first flight in April 2010 to the final flight in October 2011, going from $128,000 to $150,000, she added.
With $10,800 remaining in the Honor Flight account, board members voted to keep the funds local and support veterans-related projects in southwest Minnesota. Lanphere said it's a testimony to all of the contributors and all of the veterans.
"We know there are military stories left unsaid," she shared. "Hopefully this seed money will be used to continue to tell the story of the important contributions of all veterans in our communities.
"What veterans have done for our country is phenomenal," she added. "Getting to know these brave men and women who served in World War II ... it's only a taste of the sacrifice and service (they've performed) in each conflict. Being able to put this money back in the communities, we can continue to tell the World War II story and tell other stories about these brave men and women."
For all three of the communities, the dollars coming back will be used as "seed money" for projects that will somehow pay homage to those who gave of their time, or gave their life, in support of their country.
"I think what we (the Pipestone Honor Flight Committee) kind of agreed on is we'd like to see the World War II veterans recognized," said Bob Douty, an Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota board member.
While Pipestone has a veterans memorial in a cemetery a few miles outside of town, Douty would like to see something in town.
"This very well could be the seed money," he said.
In Luverne, Lanphere said the money will likely go toward improvements at the Herreid Military Museum's World War II exhibit.
"One of the big goals is to be able to have a Jeep Willy -- that was appropriate in World War II, Korea and Vietnam -- on display," she said.
The addition of the Jeep would be part of a museum expansion on the third floor of the building, which is located on the Courthouse Square in Luverne.
Worthington's Freedom Veterans Memorial Fund will utilize its share of the Honor Flight funds to "do something special," said Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota and Freedom Veterans Memorial board member Mike Kuhle. The board of the veterans memorial has yet to meet to discuss options for the funds.
"(The money) will be designated and kept separately from our other funds," Kuhle said.
Joni Harms, Honor Flight committee member, offered her thanks to the community for making the Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota project such a success.
"From the beginning, we were wondering how in the world we were going to be able to raise all of this money, and yet, we have a reserve," she said. "Thank you to the community for hopping on board and making this such a success."
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.