Lansing veterans included in COVID-forced rescheduling
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (August 4, 2020) – “It is with deep regret and the utmost respect for the health, safety and well-being of our senior war heroes, volunteers and partners that the Honor Flight Chicago Board of Directors has elected to suspend flights to Washington, D.C., for the entire 2020 season,” the Honor Flight Chicago blog announced on June 11.
“As we have said from the beginning of the current pandemic, our mission to Honor, Thank and Inspire our senior war heroes will continue. We will fly again when the time is right.”
Honor Flight Chicago is part of a nationwide Honor Flight network that makes arrangements to fly senior war heroes to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials built in tribute to them. Top priority is given each year to the most senior candidates—veterans of World War II and the Korean War. Last year the opportunity was expanded to include Vietnam-era veterans. Honor Flight is supported by generous donors and corporate partners, so the flight, meals, and day-long experience are all provided at no cost to any of the veterans.
In Chicago, the Honor Flight season typically runs from April through October, with one flight each month. When Lansing veterans are aboard a flight, the Legion Riders from American Legion Edward Schultz Post 697 (18255 Grant Street in Lansing) arrange to meet the returning veterans at the end of their day-long experience and escort them home with Lansing’s Police and Fire Departments.
Even the youngest of Honor Flight Chicago participants are in the age group that is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. And the Honor Flight experience is an active, emotional day that can also be a physical strain. Those considerations, as well as limitations on visits to national parks, monuments, and museums, led Honor Flight to cancel this year’s trips. “For the remainder of the 2020 season,” says the Honor Flight Chicago blog, “our focus shifts to making certain that our veterans—both our alumni and those who still await their deserved Day of Honor—feel the appreciation, respect and love that they earned through their service to our country during a time of war.”
Lansing Village Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich is actively involved as a volunteer for Honor Flight Chicago, and she has been instrumental in encouraging Lansing veterans to take advantage of the opportunity. This year, about a dozen Lansing veterans were scheduled to fly with Honor Flight Chicago. They are now hoping to participate in 2021, in the same order that they had been scheduled for this year.
As part of the effort to show appreciation in other ways, Honor Flight Chicago is providing yard signs for veterans whose plans were put on hold. Grady-Perovich made arrangements to personally deliver and place those signs in the yards of the Lansing veterans who had been scheduled to fly.
Grady-Perovich also delivered Honor Flight Chicago yard signs to Robert Aylmer, William Corbett, Ronald Raczak, William Sonntag, Harold Triezenberg, and Donald Zerth, all Lansing residents who were scheduled to fly this year.
Tony Mosley was also scheduled to participate in Honor Flight this year, but he passed away suddenly on July 17. In place of a yard sign, Grady-Perovich put together a remembrance “care package” for Mosley’s family—an Honor Flight decal and challenge coin, as well as sympathy cards that had been signed by friends and fellow veterans at Lansing’s American Legion.
Veterans who are interested in participating in an upcoming Day of Honor with Honor Flight Chicago can visit honorflightchicago.org for more information. The Veteran Application form is available online here:
- Honor Flight featured at 2019 Veterans Day Sunday ceremony (November 2019 article)
- A Day of Honor (September 2019 article)
- Lansing welcomes two Vietnam vets home from final Honor Flight of 2019 (November 2019 article)