Veterans, volunteers sought for Coastal Georgia Honor Flight
The Brunswick News February 27, 2023
(Tribune News Service) — It costs a lot to charter a flight that will carry 75 veterans from the Golden Isles to Washington, D.C., for the annual Honor Flight.
Organizers are still working to raise the more than $107,000 needed to pay for the May 13 flight and are seeking people willing to pay $500 to serve as guardians to accompany veterans during the daylong trip to the nation's capital.
It's hard work raising the money, but organizers believe it's worth the effort because of the priceless memories the veterans — and guardians who accompany them — return home with, said Eddie VanDerbeck, president of Coastal Georgia Honor Flight.
"It's an incredible experience," he said.
The flight will carry 170 people, including the 75 guardians assigned to each of the veterans, three doctors, six nurses and members of the Honor Flight leadership team.
Veterans from Camden, Glynn and McIntosh counties, as well as other areas if space is available, are eligible for the flight. Priority is given to World War II veterans, followed by Korean War and Vietnam War veterans.
Veterans who are terminally ill who served in any conflict get top priority.
Veterans fly free.
Once they arrive, they will visit the World War II, Korean and Vietnam memorials, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery (including the famous Changing of the Guard Ceremony), the Marine Corps (Iwo Jima), Air Force and Navy memorials as time permits.
Guardians pay $500 for the flight and each person is paired with a veteran whom they are responsible for for the entire day.
VanDerbeck said only 10 people have signed up to be guardians, but he expects the remaining slots will fill quickly with the help of corporate sponsors.
"It's a first-come, first-serve basis," he said of guardian positions.
The $500 paid by guardians covers all other expenses, including meals, transportation and any admissions, he said.
Though some of the veterans may be fit enough to walk throughout the day, VanDerbeck said veterans are encouraged not to get exhausted during the whirlwind tour. Enough wheelchairs are brought for every veteran on the flight, regardless of whether they need one.
"Guardians must be fit enough to push a wheelchair for an entire day," he said.
It's a long day for everyone, with the flight departing from the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport at 7 a.m. and returning home around 9 p.m.
There is also a need for volunteers to work as the ground crew behind the scenes to ensure a successful flight. Some speak before civic groups to solicit support and to explain the mission. Others help organize food service, set up chairs and assemble kits for veterans to take for the flight, among other tasks.
Go to coastalgeorgiahonorflight.org for applications for veterans, guardians and volunteers.
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