PORTLAND, OR -- The inaugural Honor Flight of Central Oregon took off Thursday morning from Portland International Airport, with more than two-dozen local veterans. Deanna Lynn Neilsen says previous trips were through the Eastern Oregon Honor Flight chapter, "They used to only be taking the World War II veterans, and we started a new hub to continue the program. We’re taking the Korean War veterans now."
She says 23 of the men on this trip are from the Korean conflict, two are from the Second World War, "We’ll have 25 veterans, 25 guardians and five trip leads. Some of the guardians are wives, and others are volunteer guardians - if the veteran didn’t have someone that was able to go along with them." Guardians pay their own way, but the vets' expenses are fully covered, "It takes about $60,000 for each trip that we do and it’s all by donation."
The group will visit all the major sites, "The World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean Memorial, Vietnam, FDR, Navy, Air Force, Women in Service; as well as Arlington where they’ll see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier," Neilsen tells KBND News, "Also, the Capitol building; we’ll have a private tour with Greg Walden’s office."
It's a whirlwind trip that ends this weekend. "We get back into Portland at 4:30 in the afternoon on Sunday. They’ll have a big welcome home party for them at the airport and then we go back to the Shilo and give them a few more gifts, then go back to Central Oregon."