Honor Flight Benefit

With its trips to Washington, D.C., grounded presently, Franklin County Honor Flight got a big lift last week.

The Franklin County Cattlemen’s Association sold its popular steak sandwiches and hamburgers for four hours Friday, Sept. 11, outside Frick’s Market in Union, raising more than $3,400 for the organization.

Despite the tough economic times, the total was about the same as the 2019 sale, said Jim Strubberg, treasurer for the Cattlemen’s Association.

It’s welcome news for Honor Flight, which is unable to put on fundraisers of its own during the coronavirus pandemic. The group also has canceled its four planned trips, known as missions, to the nation’s capital, which would have flown 26 veterans along with guardians on each mission. During the mission, veterans and their guardians visit some of the nation’s most iconic war and presidential memorials.

Since its inception in 2007, Franklin County Honor Flight has sponsored approximately 50 missions, with more than 2,000 veterans and at least 1,000 guardians taking part.

On the recommendation of the National Honor Flight Network, flights planned for April, May and June were canceled shortly after the pandemic started, with hope for a September flight high. But, with many veterans in age groups considered high risk for COVID-19, flights are now off until at least 2021.

Despite missions being grounded, local Honor Flight officials have continued to find ways to honor the area’s military veterans, including a recent car parade for Othmar “Ott” Jasper, one of Franklin County’s oldest World War II veterans.

They also have been keeping in touch with veterans who have been on previous flights, as well as those 104 veterans who were scheduled to go in 2020.

“Most of them are ready to go next year,” Honor Flight President Rosalie McGaugh said.

The organization also has been receiving donations from the public. Along with the Cattlemen’s Association, it recently received $6,180 from Franklin County Jeeps.

Honor Flight also is getting donations from families of recently deceased people who ask that donations be made instead of flowers. “It’s money for next year, and it let’s the public know that we’re still out here,” McGaugh said.

Also pushed back is a “Flightless Flight” that was planned in October at East Central College. That would have served veterans who are unable to go to D.C. because of mental or physical disabilities or concerns about flying.

“We’re going to look at the spring, but if that doesn’t work, we’ll look into next fall,” said Skip Buehrle, Honor Flight board member.

The Cattlemen’s Association, which was scheduled to follow the Honor Flight Fundraiser with one the next day for 4-H, was able to reschedule its fundraiser, which is usually held in May as part of Beef Month.