Honoring Honor Flight - The Missourian: Opinion

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Honoring Honor Flight

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Posted: Thursday, April 3, 2014 7:00 pm

In a break from tradition, three men from Union received the 2014 Washingtonian Award Saturday night at the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce annual banquet.

Larry Davis, Dave Hall and Jim Tayon, the founders of Franklin County Honor Flight, were the recipients of the annual award recognizing exemplary volunteer service to the Washington community.

These three Air Force veterans have done just that. While the local chapter of Honor Flight serves veterans from across the county, it was chosen for the profound impact it has made on the lives of Washington veterans.

These three may hail from Union but they are deserving Washingtonians.

The Honor Flight network is a nonprofit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. The group provides transportation for World War II and Korean veterans to Washington, D.C., to experience their memorials free of charge.

The idea for Honor Flight came from a retired Air Force captain and physician assistant from Springfield, Ohio. Earl Morse recognized many of his World War II-era patients were unable physically or financially to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., after it opened in 2004.

Morse knew the memorial meant a lot to veterans but many of them could not experience it without help. Morse, who is also a pilot, asked one of his patients if he could personally fly him to the memorial.

The veteran broke down and cried. He accepted the offer and the concept of Honor Flight was headed down the runway. Morse later enlisted the help of other pilots and more trips to Washington, D.C.’s, memorials ensued. After word spread about the great work they were doing on behalf of veterans, the organization took flight and spread across the country.

Davis, Hall and Tayon formed the Franklin County Chapter of Honor Flight in 2007. Since then, the group has organized 33 trips to Washington, D.C., for over 1,100 area World War II and Korean War veterans. Many of those veterans are from Washington.

The trio, along with a large and dedicated core of Honor Flight supporters and guardians, has worked tirelessly to ensure that every local veteran who wants to visit our nation’s war memorials and other monuments has that opportunity — at no cost.

They have spent endless hours planning and working out logistics for the trips, raising money and handling a myriad of other responsibilities that go along with transporting older veterans across the country.

They do it without fanfare and without expecting anything in return. They do it as a tribute and out of respect for their fellow veterans.

Along the way, they have made the Franklin County Chapter of Honor Flight one of the best in the nation.

Like the very first veteran that Morse took in 2004, many of our local veterans would not have been able to experience their memorials without the assistance of Honor Flight.

And like that very first veteran, many are overcome with emotion. Some have even described the trip as the best day of their lives.

We salute Larry Davis, Dave Hall and Jim Tayon and the rest of the Franklin County Honor Flight crew for going above and beyond the call of duty on behalf of our veterans.