Honor Flight gets ready for takeoff

Three Iolans will take part in a trip to Washington, D.C. Southern Coffey County High School takes veterans to see various memorials as part of the Honor Flight program.



October 20, 2021 - 9:54 AM

Steve Kinzle and his Honor Flight Guardian Brett Stout, a recent graduate of Southern Coffey County High School, display memorabilia from the U.S. Mint.

Three Iolans will participate in an upcoming Honor Flight sponsored by Southern Coffey County High School, in which veterans are taken on a two-day trip to see various memorials at Washington, D.C.

Iolans Larry Crawford, Curtis Meats and Duane McGraw are among the veterans included in the Nov. 11-12 trip. They’ll be joined by Eddie and Doug Eckroat and Glen Collins, all of Piqua, Nathan and Lyle Brown, Jimmy Frye and Rodney Thummel, Yates Center, Sam Rogers, Le Roy,  and several others from Coffey and surrounding counties, noted Jeff True, one of the organizers of the trip and a teacher at Southern Coffey County.

Next month’s trip is slightly different from previous excursions in that SCC alumni will serve as chaperones, and not current students, True said.

That’s because participants must be vaccinated, and the youths, for the most part, have not followed through. Youths as young as 12 can receive the vaccine. 

Another Honor Flight will be in the spring. True said there are roughly 120 veterans on a waiting list.

Honor Flights at SCC began more than 16 years ago as a way to honor veterans and give them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view war memorials. That’s particularly true for those who served in Vietnam, because those veterans weren’t always received well upon their return to the States, True said.

Next month’s trip will include stops at memorials for the U.S. Armed Services branches, as well as World War II, Korea and Vietnam wars, as well as a visit to Arlington National Cemetery.

Honor Flights were curbed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The goal is to resume the twice-a-year-excursions, True said.

A bus will depart from Le Roy to Kansas City International Airport in the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 11 — fittingly enough, Veterans Day — for a flight to Balitomore. The group will stay overnight in Baltimore and proceed to Washington, D.C. for a full day of activities on Nov. 12, before flying home that evening.

An American Legion Patriot Guard motorcycle caravan will escort the participants from Kansas City to Le Roy.

Cost of the trip is upward of $30,000, with much of the fundraising spearheaded by the Le Roy Masons, True said.

“They’ve done a lot for us,” he said. “Fortunately, we’ve got some money saved up so we can do these trips.”

The emotional impact of escorting the veterans is one True won’t soon forget.

“Short of getting married and having three boys who are doing pretty well, this trip is one of the most special moments of my life,” True said.

As more trips are scheduled, and the waiting list for veterans grows smaller, True is eager to hear from others who would like to be included in future Honor Flights. (The cost is free for the veterans.)

Those wishing to be put on the list should call True at (620) 490-0303, or reach him via email at [email protected].