Honor Flight announces fourth, final journeyLUVERNE — World War II veterans from the region still hoping to take part on Honor Flight are in luck — the Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota board decided at its meeting Sunday evening that there will be a fourth and final flight departing from the Luverne hub.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
LUVERNE — World War II veterans from the region still hoping to take part on Honor Flight are in luck — the Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota board decided at its meeting Sunday evening that there will be a fourth and final flight departing from the Luverne hub.
More than 80 applications have already been received for the flight, which will travel to Washington, D.C., Sept. 30-Oct. 1. On the journey, World War II veterans will get to view the memorial constructed in their honor, as well as the Vietnam, Korean and Lincoln memorials, Arlington National Cemetery, the Marine Corp (Iwo Jima), Air Force and Navy memorials.
Veterans interested in taking part on Honor Flight, which is free for all who served in World War II, are encouraged to call Jane Lanphere at the Luverne Area Chamber of Commerce, (507) 283-4061, for more information and an application.
Terrie Gulden, Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota board president, said Sunday night their organization received some major funding commitments within the last month, making the decision to move ahead with a fourth and final flight possible.
“We’re just happy to announce that it’s a go,” said Gulden. “We’re going to continue to raise money and we think we’re going to meet our goal.”
The Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF), which stepped forth with a $25,000 grant prior to the second southwest Minnesota flight in October 2010, has again offered a major contribution. Gulden said SWIF committed an additional $25,000 for the fourth flight, but then added another $11,000 to boost its donation to $36,000.
At the same time, Gulden said he received a commitment of $30,000 from an entity — if Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota can raise the last $20,000 needed to fund the flight.
“It’s a really huge deal for us,” said Gulden. “We think we can raise that.”
The total cost of an Honor Flight is roughly $138,00 to $140,000, but the trip is entirely free for World War II veterans. The price covers the flight, motel and food for the two-day journey. Guardians, who assist veterans on the journey, pay $800.
Securing a fourth flight is a dream come true for Gulden, who never imagined southwest Minnesota could raise enough money for one flight, much less four.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “The fourth flight got a little more difficult — we pretty much exhausted our fundraising in these four counties of the state.”
He looks to counties farther north to help raise the final dollars needed to pay for this last flight.
Gulden said they are looking at taking up to 105 veterans on this last flight. Health issues are becoming more critical among those veterans who haven’t yet made the Honor Flight journey.
“We have lots of applications out,” he said. “We think we’ll have more veterans sending in an application because they know it’s their last chance.”
Gulden said the Honor Flight hub at Rochester is also planning its final flight in October. After that, there will no longer be an active hub in southern Minnesota.
To date, nearly 335 World War II veterans have taken the “trip of a lifetime” on Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota.
“That’s an amazing number,” Gulden said. “Raising almost $400,000 is pretty incredible.”
Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota has more than 100 applications on file for guardians to accompany the veterans on the journey. Still, Gulden said those who have a family member going as a veteran are encouraged to apply.
To donate to the final flight, send your contributions to Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota, 213 E. Luverne St., Luverne, Minn. 56156.