Honor Flight

A 2012 Franklin County Honor Flight visit to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Franklin County Honor Flight will not be bringing veterans on trips to Washington, D.C., in 2021.

The decision comes after the National Honor Flight Network announced that flights can resume starting Aug. 16. But Franklin County Honor Flight President Rosalie McGaugh said some restrictions in place will make the organization unable to go just yet. 

“For one thing, we wouldn’t have a park police escort, and there’s a lot of restrictions with COVID,” McGaugh said. “Most of our men have underlying conditions, even though they do have vaccinations. We do require that.”

The National Park Service decided against offering police escorts at this time due to the pandemic, said Carol Harlow, spokeswoman for the National Honor Flight Network. The network is requiring all veterans and their volunteer guardians either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have a negative test within 72 hours of the flight.

The organization also follows mask requirements for the states where the veterans come from and the District of Columbia, and each participant is asked to take a self-assessment health check on the day of the flight to let organizers know if they are feeling well enough to travel, Harlow said.

Some other local Honor Flight hubs have opted to wait until 2022 before resuming flights, Harlow said. “You think about it, they’ve lost a year of fundraising.” 

Franklin County Honor Flight officials hope they can take a trip in the spring, allowing veterans to see monuments built in their honor. It has not taken any trips since 2019 because of the pandemic.

Franklin County Honor Flight is giving priority to the veterans who were to be on the first two flights canceled in 2020. Each flight carries 26 veterans, who each have a guardian.

The Oct. 21 flight would have been the only trip Franklin County Honor Flight took this year. It is too cold to go in the winter months. 

Though it initially had to pay some of the money for its planned October flight in advance, Franklin County Honor Flight was able to get a refund when the flight was canceled, McGaugh said. 

The National Honor Flight Network also will allow local organizations to fundraise starting Aug. 16, as long as rules in local areas allow it, Harlow said.

Franklin County Honor Flight doesn’t have its own fundraiser scheduled yet, but outside groups are putting on a benefit event Sept. 10 in New Haven. A benefit barbecue, sponsored by Boeuf & Berger Mutual Insurance Co., will be held starting at 10:30 a.m. at Save A Lot, 515 Harold Meyer Drive. Call 573-237-3476 for more information.

People interested in being guardians or veterans interested in future trips to the District of Columbia can visit www.fchonorflight.org or call McGaugh at 636-584-5253 for more information.

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.