On August 13th, Honor Flight Long Island (HFLI) and the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport in Farmingdale hosted a reunion of 37 Vietnam veterans and one WWII veteran who had taken an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. in June of 2022.
Honor Flight Long Island’s mission is to honor as many Long Island veterans for their service and sacrifice to country by providing them with a daylong trip, at no cost to the veteran, to visit the war memorials designed and built in their honor at our nation’s Capital. Departing early from Islip MacArthur Airport, these veterans received an exhilarating send-off and welcome home at both departure and arrival terminals which resonated with the stirring sound of bagpipes and the thunderous applause of hundreds of family members and supporters far and wide. After the veteran’s arrival in Washington, they were transported to the National World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial, followed by a solemn Changing of the Guard ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
Two months later, at the reunion of their June Honor Flight held at the museum, Bill Jones, HFLI’s president, spoke of the 37 Vietnam veteran attendees and those who were unable to attend, thanking them for their service and the long overdue recognition that most Vietnam vets never received upon their return home, or after their service ended. Jones also spoke of the sole WWII veteran who had participated in the Honor Flight, referring to him as one of the ‘Greatest Generation’ and said that the Honor Flight ‘’represented a ‘Big Hug’ to all veterans from their families and all the supporters who made their flight possible.”
The August 13 reunion included remarks by Honor Flight Long Island president Bill Jones and Jeff Clyman, president of the American Airpower Museum, as well as elected officials and representatives who presented citations to each veteran and a personalized hard-bound album of photographs from their memorable Honor Flight and day in Washington, D.C.
The heartrending reunion of the 38 Honor Flight veterans that afternoon also included the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Band who played the Armed Forces Salute before and after the ceremony, featuring a medley of five official melodies of the U.S. Armed Forces. After the presentation, refreshments and cake were served to all attendees by Honor Flight Long Island volunteers.
The next Honor Flight Long Island will take place on Friday, September 23, 2022. HFLI is accepting applications from veterans of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Long Island veterans are encouraged to sign up on the HFLI website. Veterans fly for free thanks to donations from across Long Island, and all veterans are accompanied by a guardian with a donation of $400 (tax-deductible) to offset their travel costs. More information can be found on the HFLI website.