By Ryan Yousefi
Honor Flight South Florida is gearing up to honor veterans from Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties with a trip of a lifetime.
Honor Flight South Florida – an organization run 100 percent by volunteers – aims to express gratitude and appreciation to those who have served in the U.S. military by flying them to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect on the memorials built in their honor.
The organization is currently accepting applicants for the final two appreciation flights that will take to the skies to end the year, the first on Saturday, September 23, and the second on Saturday, October 28.
Michael Udine, Broward County Commissioner and Parkland resident expressed his admiration for the program, telling Parkland Talk he routinely takes part in welcoming the men home in a show of his gratitude for their service.
“The honor flight is really a special way to thank our veterans and greatest generation for their dedication and service to our country,” Udine said.
“Personally, I try to be at Fort Lauderdale airport to welcome them home, and when these Honor Flight trips come back, I think it’s important for them to see elected officials and members of the public thanking them for their service and for what they did for our country.”
Due to the high demand to take part in the Honor Flight experience, priority for these life-changing trips is currently reserved for individuals who fought in World War II and those heroes that are terminally ill veterans from any service period.
The organization goes above and beyond to ensure that every veteran, regardless of disability, can participate in the journey, offering honor chairs and oxygen with advance arrangements.
Udine said Honor Flights are sight-to-be-seen and profoundly impact those lucky enough to witness the welcome home ceremonies, noting that even bystanders at the airport become captivated by the spectacle.
“Usually, I see people from other gates that have nothing to do with Honor Flight marveling at what’s going on,”
“They never really understand what’s happening when they see the welcome home, but once they’re there, usually the entire airport sits by the gate to watch what’s going on – It’s truly an amazing thing to observe firsthand.”
Honor Flight’s one-day mission to the nation’s capital includes round-trip airfare, deluxe bus transportation throughout Washington D.C. with police escorts, meals, commemorative t-shirts, and other amenities to ensure the veterans’ comfort during the trip.
The organization ensures that all eligible veterans can participate by setting reasonable criteria – a minimum of six months of service in the U.S. military with an honorable discharge, confirmed by the veteran’s DD214/discharge papers.
To apply for an upcoming Honor Flight, click here to read about eligibility.
- Ryan Yousefi has lived in Coral Springs for over 30 years. He has worked as a writer for multiples outlets over the years, including the Miami New Times where he has covered sports and culture since 2013. He holds a Bachelor's Degree and a Master's Degree in Business Healthcare Management from Western Governors University.
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