Logistical changes coming to Veteran Honor flights

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
honor flight

There are logistical changes coming to veteran’s honor flights after many veterans were stuck with a half-Honor Flight experience.

The reason for the change from escort service to buses is not clear. So, U.S. Representative from Florida Greg Steube sent a letter to the Department of the Interior asking ‘what can be done?’ In his letter, Rep. Stuebe argues our Honor Flight veterans deserve the full experience they have earned.

The trips to Washington, D.C. are created specifically for our veterans to visit memorials in their honor. There isn’t going to be a car service once they get to D.C., making the journey a lot harder for these heroes.

That was a once-in-a-lifetime moment for Naples veteran Roger Zucker. “This is just a reminder of what a tough situation it was,” said Zucker.

He got that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly to Washington D.C. in 2019 on an Honor Flight. Honor Flights properly salute the brave men and women who fought by his side in the Korean War.

Jason Dysarczyk is a trained guardian who accompanied Zucker to Washington. “When I got off the plane in Washington, DC, the welcome that my veteran and the other 84 veterans on that flight received made me cry,” said Dysarczyk.

“I’m a veteran as well. But that outpouring of support and love, and affection brought me to tears. Even thinking about it right now brings me to tears,” Dysarczyk said.

As it turned out, that was the last Honor Flight from Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) before COVID-19 hit.

Jessica Ingalls is the Ambassador Collier-Lee Honor Flight and is the medical veteran coordinator. “We’ve had to cancel multiple flights. And unfortunately, by doing so, you know, we didn’t get to take some of our national heroes up to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials that were built for them,” Ingalls said.

But, Ingalls said that honor Flights are back on. 85 veterans will get on a plane at RSW at the end of April.

“We visit the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Veteran Memorial, Korean Memorial, Air Force, Marine Corps and then Arlington. The orders may change, but that’s the… essentially the day’s plan,” Dysarczyk said.

Then, they’ll come to a crow of people who will clap, cheer and thank them for their service. “Whatever your job was in the military, your service is your service, and we appreciate everything that you’ve done,” said Ingalls.

What Collier-Lee Honor Flights still need is more guardians. They have 50 right now and need 35 more. If you’d like to volunteer to be a guardian, you can do so by following this link. And, you do not have to be a veteran to do so.

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