Local American heroes in Charlotte County have been honored, taking part in Southwest Florida honor flights in the past. Now, these veterans will have the honor and opportunity to take to the sky closer to home.
For the first time ever, honor flights will leave out of Punta Gorda Airport.
Veteran Jeffrey Repka said his trip on a SWFL honor flight the best day of his life.
“Let’s put it this way; I wasn’t the only one who was in tears,” Repka said. “I said to myself, ‘This is so wonderful. I don’t deserve it. I just did my duty.’”
Repka, a Charlotte County man, took his first honor flight out of Southwest International Airport in Lee County. And he said there is one thing the veterans in Charlotte County are feeling now that Punta Gorda will be their launch site.
“They are so excited about it,” Repka said.
Ginni Fay with Southwest Florida Honor Flight said the group still has room for about 100 veterans for the next flight in May 2020. All expenses are paid through donations, allowing World War II, Korean and Vietnam veterans to take to the sky.
“You get goosebumps,” Fay said. “It brings tears to your eyes because it is just amazing.”
Nearly 200 veterans and their guardians will take the inaugural flight to Baltimore. They will also visit memorials on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and go to Arlington National Cemetery. They will return to Punta Gorda the night of their trip, received by a welcome home they deserve.
“If they have any feelings at all that they were not appreciated, if they go, they will never have a doubt in the world,” Repka said.
The Collier-Lee Honor Flight is set for this Saturday, when 85 veterans will be welcomed home at the Southwest Florida International Airport at 9 p.m. The welcome home celebration is open to the public.
It serves as a flight of a lifetime for veterans who served our country.
“If you get the opportunity and you can do it, do it,” Repka said.
For more information on the Punta Gorda Honor Flight in 2020, visit the website for all the details.