Somehow, it took our country almost 60 years to honor these heroes with the World War II Memorial, which opened in April of 2004.
The sad fact is the number of survivors who actually served in the war is dwindling every day, and there is a good chance that the very people the memorial was built to honor will never have the chance to see it in person.
Honor Flight is an organization that is determined to allow as many World War II veterans as possible see the memorial. Local outposts of the group are popping up across the country.
Tim Morgan, Pickens County Assistant Sheriff, and his department are joining forces with American Legion Post 11 in Pickens to raise funds to send as many Pickens County World War II veterans as possible on a trip to Washington to visit the memorial.
They are being joined in the effort by Easley American Legion Post 52.
“We have 323 World War II veterans alive in Pickens County according to our records,” Morgan said. “Of course, due to privacy laws that have been passed in the last few years, we realize that number is probably low. More likely, there are more than 500 World War II veterans in the county.”
“I know there are 31 World War II veterans active in Post 52,” said Jim Ruud, associate commander.
The Honor Flight group hopes to get together funds to send 100 veterans and 40 caretakers on a chartered plane to Washington to visit the memorial.
But time is of the essence.
“We’ll need to make the trip some time in May,” Morgan said. “After that, there’s probably too much heat for the veterans to deal with, so if we miss May, we’ll have to wait until September to take a group.
In order to take a group, a plane must be chartered some time in April for the trip. Cost for that is $34,000
“We’re on a very tight time frame,” Morgan said.
If the Pickens County group is not able to raise enough to send an entire plane to Washington, they have contacts with other Honor Flight groups in the Upstate willing to considering combining efforts to fill a plane.
But the local group would really like to see 100 Pickens County World War II veterans make the trip in May. So, the group is seeking donations to make their plans become reality.
“Our cost is roughly $500 per veteran,” Morgan said. “But we want to stress, there is no cost to the veteran. That’s why we need people to support us in our effort.”
Morgan realizes some families will want their loved one to be one of the veterans on the first trip. Targeted donations are acceptable.
“You may have a family that can chip in together to make sure somebody goes,” Morgan said. “We’re willing to work with that.”
Morgan says he realizes the country is in the middle of a big recession, but with 1,200 World War II veterans dying each day in America, there is no time to wait for a better economy.
“Every day I look at the obituaries and I see where another World War II veteran has passed away,” Morgan said. “When we faced hard times in the 1940s, these people stepped forward to make sacrifices that led to a way of life we are still enjoying today. I think it would almost be a slap in the face for us to say, ‘Things are too tough today, so we’re not willing to make sacrifice for you.’”
For more information or to make a donation, contact Morgan (898-5501 or firstname.lastname@example.org), Richard Reece (878-1014 or email@example.com), Joe Board (650-2448 or Joeb77@bellsouth.net), Carl Layman (859-4832) or Jim Ruud (859-1739.
For more information go to www.honorflightupstatesc.com.