Seats are open for next Honor Flight

March 27, 2012

Show Me Honor Flight aims to make dreams come true for local veterans.

On May 14, the program will take off on its ninth flight to Washington, D.C., to see the war memorials. Thirty-eight veterans who served in World War II and Korea will be onboard.

“I have about 10 seats available this flight,” said Pam Burlingame, board president of Show Me Honor Flight. The one-day trip is free to veterans. All they need to do is fill out an application, which is available at the Sedalia Democrat, the Municipal Building and KSIS Radio. The deadline is April 13.

Show Me Honor Flight started in October 2008 and was the first hub in Missouri. Since then, seven other hubs have been formed around the state.

“We’re one of the very first hubs (in the country) to take Korean War veterans,” said Burlingame.

All of the money for Show Me Honor Flight is raised in Sedalia and surrounding towns. Recently, the Show Me Honor Flight Board recognized Casey’s General Stores and KSIS for their support. KSIS hosted three different radio-a-thons, and Casey’s puts out collection cans in several stores the month of the event. Over two years, “They have raised enough for an entire flight — a little over $26,000 combined,” Burlingame said.

“We recently received a donation of $12,500 from a single donor. The individual requested to remain anonymous. This will pay for half of a flight. It is the only donation we have received like this and is so very much appreciated. Fundraising is great in Sedalia. People are very giving. This donation puts us well on our way for a successful fundraising season this summer.”

Most of the donations come in smaller packages, but every dollar counts. Terri Howard, a licensed practical nurse at Fair View Nursing Home, knew she wanted to help Show Me Honor Flight. She got to escort Frankie Klinger and Jim Cramer of Fair View on the Central Missouri Honor Flight out of Columbia.

“The emotions that these guys went through on this trip -- Somebody was at every turn coming up and saying thank you or handing the guys a flag. The guys were breaking down,” Howard said.

In March 2011, she put her plan into action. She started hosting monthly lunches for the nursing home staff. Sometimes she sold sub sandwiches and chips, and other days she had soup and chili. On Thanksgiving, she went to the downtown lighting ceremony and sold hot dogs and hot cider. By December, $800 was raised for Honor Flight.

“I was shocked. I hadn’t really kept track,” Howard said. She continued her work and on March 16, she presented a check to Show Me Honor Flight for $1,050. That will pay for three veterans to make the trip. Howard isn’t stopping there. She hosted her first luncheon for the spring on Tuesday.

Another way to help the cause is by purchasing a brick for the Veterans Memory Walk of Honor at the Pettis County Courthouse. To date, more than 1,800 bricks have been sold.

“We hope in the next couple of months to get the remaining bricks put down,” Burlingame said. Bricks cost $50 and forms are available at the Democrat. The walk has room for about another 1,000 bricks.

“It not only raises money for Honor Flight, it’s a gift to the community and it’s a legacy because a 100 years from now we’ll all be gone, but those bricks will be there,” said Jim Gaertner, vice president of Show Me Honor Flight.

A walkway also has been started at the Saline County Courthouse. Close to 800 bricks have been sold there.

Burlingame and Gaertner both hope to see a boost in numbers of people greeting the veterans when they return to Sedalia after the flight.

“That’s something we really want to grow,” said Burlingame. “We would love when they come back to Sedalia for them to get that final coming home reception.”

“It’s kind of contagious,” Gaertner said. “Originally with the reception it was a group of individuals, and now it seems like every time we go there’s civic groups there.”

Applications are being accepted for Vietnam veterans who served from 1959 to 1967. Because it was such a long war, Honor Flight has divided it into two groups. Its hope is to take the first Vietnam flight in the fall.

For more information about Show Me Honor Flight, call Burlingame at 660-553-1080 or Gaertner at 660-527-3426.