CARTHAGE — To aid in their efforts to help veterans participate in an Honor Flight, two local service organizations are hosting a fundraiser Sept. 13.
Bassett-Baxter American Legion Post 789 and Dionne-Rumble Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7227 are joining forces to enable World War II and Korean War veterans to participate in a trip to Washington, D.C. The Honor Flight program flies veterans with a guardian to Washington free of charge to allow them to visit the national monuments.
The program focuses on World War II and Korean War veterans, but considers veterans from other eras and those who are terminally ill.
The Carthage posts have submitted applications for 11 area veterans to participate with the Syracuse Hub Honor Flight Oct. 4.
“We are losing many World War II veterans every day,” Deborah J. Atkins, American Legion Auxiliary president said. “We want to enable veterans to go to the World War II Memorial.”
She explained the veterans’ expenses are paid through the Honor Flight program, however, expenses for the required guardian are not. The fundraiser will help defray the costs for the guardian’s flight and meals as well help pay for a night’s stay in Syracuse and dinner prior to the flight. The local Honor Flight flies out of Syracuse early Saturday morning, tours Washington throughout the day and returns to Syracuse that evening. The veterans are each provided with a wheelchair as they are escorted through the city.
“It’s a great experience,” Mrs. Atkins said.
She added the upcoming fundraiser will also serve as an informational session with displays about the program.
“Our number one goal is to get the word out to the public that any veteran is eligible for the Honor Flight,” the organizer said.
The two groups hope to make involvement in assisting veterans in participating in Honor Flight a continuous, joint program.
Charles W. Spencer of the VFW said the Honor Flight wwprogram is important.
“The senior veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam are the mainstay of our organizations,” Mr. Spencer said.
He noted that other war era veterans had monuments prior to the World War II veterans.
“They never got a chance and finally they made a monument for World War II. Most of those men are in their 80s or early 90s, they deserve a chance to see it.”
In March West Carthage resident and World War II veteran Bernard Bouilo took the Honor Flight.
“Bernie only had praises of the Honor Flight,” Mr. Spencer said. “They really take care of the people.”
Mr. Spencer also noted the groups are seeking to help veterans not only from the Carthage area but from Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
For more information about Honor Flight, visit the website at www.honorflightsyracuse.org.
The benefit will start with a chicken barbecue at noon at the VFW, 668 West End Ave. Then at 1 p.m. there will be a live auction with Randy Bishop taking bids, music by DJ Phelps, raffles and a lottery tree.
Organizers are seeking donations for the auction which can be dropped off at the VFW or at the American Legion, 415 West St.
For more information about the fundraiser or Honor Flight program, call 493-0503 or 493-2787.