BEND, OR -- The latest Honor Flight of Central Oregon takes off Wednesday morning, with more than two dozen veterans from our tri-county area. Deanna Lynn Neilsen says the trip takes veterans on an all-expenses paid trip to visit war memorials in the National Mall. She told KBND News Tuesday, "We're just getting ready to head out of Portland for a four-day trip to Washington, DC with 25 veterans; 22 of them are Korean War veterans, and three were also in World War II." She adds, "It's only for World War II and Korean War veterans at this point, and it's on a first-come-first-served basis." It’s only the second time local Korean Conflict vets have been included in an Honor Flight
The vets will see all major memorials, Arlington National Cemetery and the Capitol, and get special attention from Representative Greg Walden, "He'll be presenting each of the veterans with a flag that's been flown over the capitol, and present them with certificates thanking them for their service, and there will also be another big surprise while they're back there that I can't say anything about." But, the trip isn't the end of their recognition. Neilsen says, "Once we return from DC, we'll have a gathering there behind JC Penney [in Bend] on Saturday afternoon at about 4 to 4:30, where anyone from the public is welcome to come greet the veterans."
The annual trip costs approximately $60,000 and Neilsen says it's entirely paid for through donations. "We support three counties in Central Oregon: Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson, so all the veterans have to be from one of those counties in order to be part of our hub." To be considered for the next flight, fill out an online application on Honor Flight of Central Oregon's website.
Photo courtesy of the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, who provided a send-off for vets, Tuesday afternoon.