Great River Honor Flight to resume monthly missions to Washington, D.C., on May 19

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Great River Honor Flights are Flights are planned for May 19, June 16, August 18, September 15 and October 13 this year. | Photo courtesy of Carlos Fernandez

QUINCY — The Great River Honor Flight missions to Washington, D.C. will resume Thursday May 19 after a pause of more than two years caused by the pandemic.

“Our board felt that the mandates and restrictions in place the past 24 months did not allow our veterans to be able to fully experience the thanks and gratitude our nation wants to express, so we felt it was in everyone’s best interest to hold off the flights until things improved,” Carlos Fernandez, chairman of the Great River Honor Flight Board, said in a press release.

The May trip will be the 58th mission for local veterans since the program started serving the region in 2010.  Since then, 1,855 local veterans who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and between those conflicts have participated in this program. Thirty-one veterans from Illinois (Adams, McDonough, Hancock, Schuyler, Brown, Pike and St. Clair counties), Missouri (Marion and Ralls counties) plus Iowa (Lee County) will be part of the May mission.  

“The continuing financial support we have received over the past two years has been outstanding,” Great River Honor Flight Treasurer Doug Reed said.  “We are more than ready to once again activate the list of local veterans who have been patiently waiting for their chance to experience an Honor Flight.”  

Flights are planned for June 16, August 18, September 15 and October 13.

The departure and return on May 19 will be from John Wood Community College.  It starts with a 2 a.m. departure for a bus ride to Lambert Field in St. Louis where they will board their flight to Baltimore and then to Washington.  

“It has been a privilege to partner with the Great River Honor Flight over these many years in recognition of our veterans. We are excited to welcome back the veterans, their families and our community as we celebrate with the Great River Honor Flight Program their service and sacrifice for our freedom.”  JWCC President Michael Elbe said.

The May 19trip will follow the itinerary that has been successful during the past 12 years.  The first stop will be at the Vietnam Wall Memorial, and it will include visits to the nearby Korea and Lincoln Memorials.  Next on the itinerary is a stop at the World War II Memorial, which sits next to the Washington Monument. That’s where a group picture will be taken.  

Next will be a tour of the U.S. Capitol as well as a stop at the Iwo Jima Memorial, followed by a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, including a viewing of the ceremonial changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  The trip concludes with dinner at the Air Force Memorial overlooking the Pentagon.

The veterans will then head to Reagan International Airport for their return flight to St. Louis.  A charter bus will bring them back to the JWCC campus for a homecoming. The expected arrival time back in Quincy will be around 10:30 p.m.

Great River Honor Flight, a Missouri nonprofit corporation established in October 2009, was created to honor America’s veterans who live in our area for all they have sacrificed by providing, free of charge, transportation to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices.  

The first Great River Honor Flight was scheduled on April 13, 2010. At the time, all the veterans were from World War II.  The program later expanded to include veterans who had served during the Korean War, then expanded again to include veterans during the Vietnam War as well as those who served between those conflicts.  

The program’s goal is to continue to increase the total number of local veterans who have flown to Washington, D.C., for free thanks to the financial support of many individuals, groups and businesses in the area.  

For additional information, contact Carlos Fernandez at or by mail at Great River Honor Flight, P.O. Box 3723, Quincy, Ill., 62305.

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