John Wallen of Pine, who served as a lieutenant in the Army during World War II, was flown to Washington, D.C. as part of an Honor Flight.
The Prescott Division of the organization took Wallen and other World War II veterans to the nation’s capital to visit its many war memorials.
Wallen served in General George Patton’s Third Army in the Normandy Campaign, the Relief of Bastogne, the Battle of the Bulge, a major Rhine crossing, and the conquest of southern Germany. He ended the war on the Czechoslovakian border.
He was a recipient of the Combat Infantry Badge and the Bronze Star, as well as many citations.
Wallen is not the first Rim Country resident to enjoy an Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C. Back in 2011, a group of four Payson veterans of World War II participated in the program.
About Honor Flight Arizona
Honor Flight Network honors America’s veterans by transporting many to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials, especially World War II veterans. Arizona is the 28th state to offer Honor Flights. The organizers hope to fly as many WWII veterans from Arizona to Washington, D.C. as possible, with no cost to veterans.
Honor Flight was conceived when the WWII Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 2004. At that point, only one in four WWII veterans were still alive.
Earl Morse, a retired Air Force captain and physician’s assistant, was working in a VA facility in Ohio. He listened as the elderly veterans spoke of wanting to visit the memorial. Recognizing their lack of financial resources and physical stamina, Morse, a private pilot, asked some of the vets if they would like him to fly them gratis to see the memorial. When hearing the offer, many of these elderly warriors broke down in tears.
The first flight consisted of 12 veterans in four small planes and Honor Flight was born. By the end of 2010, 50,000 veterans had traveled from 95 “hubs” across the country to experience the memorial dedicated to them, with Honor Flight.
The non-profit organization Honor Flight Arizona began at the end of 2008 and flew its first trip of 25 veterans in November 2009. By the end of 2010, 163 Arizona veterans had traveled to see their memorial.
Volunteer “guardians” pay their own way to accompany the veterans on the three-day trip. They assist with wheelchairs and otherwise ensure the veterans’ safety when loading/unloading the buses and planes.
Frequently, the guardians simply lend an ear to an emotional veteran remembering a painful experience or a lost friend.
Honor Flight Arizona is part of the Honor Flight Network that establishes protocols and maintains a national Web site, www.honorflight.org.
Honor Flight Arizona is a 100 percent volunteer organization. In addition to fund-raising and maintaining a veteran database, volunteers plan all aspects of each trip to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. The cost of each three-day trip is more than $850 per veteran. Each trip of up to 35 veterans is almost $30,000.
Visit the program’s Web site to see how to participate. All donations are tax deductible.
For information visit www.honorflight.org.