Honor Flight to lay wreath at Arlington
LUVERNE -- The fourth and final journey of Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota will be special in many ways, not only for the veterans and guardians, but for the staff people who have accompanied our World War II heroes on each of the journeys to Washington, D.C.
This flight, however, will have extra meaning because four Honor Flight staffers who have worked tirelessly to plan and support the journeys have been chosen to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns Friday afternoon, Sept. 30, at Arlington National Cemetery.
The four wreath bearers include Jane Lanphere of Luverne, who initiated the Honor Flight program locally and coordinated the countless lists to make the flights happen without a glitch; Glen Gust, who was the first major donor, contributing $10,000 toward the first flight; Bob Douty of Pipestone, who has been involved in the planning efforts for Honor Flight since the group formed in the fall of 2009; and Joni Harms, publisher of the Daily Globe, a supporter of Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota.
Terrie Gulden, president of Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota, made the initial application to the Department of the Army at Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the tomb.
"I didn't know if it was going to work previously, but on this last flight I thought I'd try," said Gulden, who was quite surprised when he received a positive response from Arlington. He said South Dakota Honor Flight had applied several times to participate in a wreath laying ceremony and "never got in."
"This is really cool," Gulden said. "It's quite an honor to be able to do this and be able to recognize the people that have worked so hard on the four flights.
A wreath has been ordered with flowers of red, white and blue -- fitting for Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota because those have been the signature colors on each of the flights.
The wreath will also include a banner identifying the organization.
Gulden said the wreath will be laid at the Tomb of the Unknowns on behalf of -- and as an honor to -- the World War II heroes that have taken part in any of the journeys of Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota.
Initially, Gulden wanted the wreath-laying ceremony to be a surprise, but because there are specific clothing requirements for those who lay a wreath, he needed to let his staff in on the secret.
With little more than two weeks to go before the fourth flight lifts off, Gulden said everything is coming together. Funds for the flight are considered to be "really tight," especially after Gulden received a large fuel surcharge bill last week from the airlines.
"If somebody would like to make a contribution, we're certainly willing to take it," he said. Donations may be dropped off at the Luverne Area Chamber of Commerce and Worthington Chamber of Commerce.
There are 110 World War II veterans, along with 55 guardians and medical personnel, scheduled to be on the fourth and final journey of Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota.