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Hungry for Honor Flight

| May 25, 2022 1:20 AM

EPHRATA — The American Legion Post 28 Legionnaires and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 28 held a fundraiser on Saturday in Ephrata for veterans to get an opportunity to visit military memorials around the Washington D.C. area.

The program, called Honor Flight, takes veterans from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars to see the memorials around Washington D.C. built in honor of their service.

There are currently more than 600 veterans on the waitlist in the Inland Northwest to participate in Honor Flight, mainly due to the halting of Honor Flights during the pandemic, according to a release by Event Chairman Jane Montaney.

Montaney said in the release that Inland Northwest Honor Flight Director Tony Lamanna shared that the cost for one Honor Flight is $250,000.

The fundraiser held at the Ephrata American Legion raised funds through a nacho and taco feed and live auction. A $10 donation was recommended for the cost of the meal.

The two-hour event saw about one to two dozen attendees, many of whom were veterans or their family members.

Robert Bluhm and his wife were in attendance of the event. Bluhm went on his honor flight in 2014. Just before the live auction, Bluhm shared his experience with the Honor Flight Program with the rest of the attendees.

His Honor flight was a two-day trip that started at Spokane International Airport. They received a warm welcome upon their arrival to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia.

“Before we left the airport in Dulles, there was people lined up waiting for our plane to come in,” said Bluhm. “When we came in, they had fire trucks on each side of the plane and they shot water over us as a salute.”

He also mentioned how people in the airport that they didn’t know were there to welcome them and greeted them as they passed through. A couple of small children, in white navy Officer’s uniforms stood out to Bluhm.

Bluhm said his Honor Flight had about 160 people in total, including veterans, family members and aids.

“To see the Korean (memorial), it has over full-size steel statues of a group going through a swamp area was really something to see,” said Bluhm.

Montaney said they raised about $2,750 at the event on Saturday. They also had additional donations outside of the event so they were able to send a $3,000 check to the Inland Northwest Honor Flight program. The American Legion Riders Chapter 209 based out of Moses Lake also donated $1,000 directly to the program.

“I’m very very grateful for everyone that showed,” Montaney said.

While she is very grateful for the turnout, she had hoped they would have been able to raise more money than they did. She noted that in 2019 they had raised twice as much as they did at this year’s event.

If anyone would like to donate to the Honor Flight, donations can be made out by check to the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 28 with Honor Flight written on the memo line. Contact Montaney at 509-760-1433 with any questions.

Rebecca Pettingill can be reached at rpettingill@columbiabasinherald.com.

photo

COURTESY PHOTO/PEXELS/SABRINA H.

The World War II Memorial pictured above is just one of the war memorials honoring living veterans that vets fortunate enough to participate in the Honor Flight program can visit on their trip to Washington D.C.

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