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My Father the Hero

A San Diego nonprofit honors World War II vets by taking them on the flight of a lifetime, prompting one local father-son duo to find a bright spot in a troubled place: Washington, D.C.

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BREITLING USA Supports Honor Flight

Breitling Donates $150,000 To Honor Flight Network And Raises ...

Nov 30, 2013 - Breitling marked the annual Veteran's Day holiday with a donation of $150000 to Honor Flight Network, the charity that funds trips for World War ...

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New Limited-Edition Breitling Navitimer Watch Supports Honor ...

Nov 14, 2013 - A new Breitling watch debuts: the Breitling Navitimer 01 for Honor Flight. Find out about this Breitling pilot watch, prices included.

 

Breitling Navitimer “Honor Flight” Pays Tribute to WWII Veterans ...

Oct 10, 2013 - Breitling is auctioning off a one of a kind timepiece created to pay tribute to World War II veterans. Proceeds from the winning bid on the limited.

Great News! $100,000 Matching Funds on Donations for 2013

HFSD received a big matching fund pledge thru 3/31/2013. Your donation will double in value.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Special Thanks to Writer John Wilkens and Photographer Howard Lipin for sharing our Tour of Honor with San Diego

Stories

Honoring WWII vets' service, sacrifice

Honor Flight: Mail Call

Honor Flight: New Friends

Honor Flight: Arrival

Honor Flight: Reunion

Honor Flight: A father remembers

Honor Flight: Tribute for a friend

Honor Flight: All smiles

A warm homecoming for WWII veterans 

Photo Galleries with Photography by Howard Lipin

Great News! $100,000 Matching Funds on Donations

 Dave Walker and Friends will Match up to $100K

HFSD received a big matching fund pledge thru 3/31/2012. HFSD supporter Dave Walker and friends will match HFSD donations up to $100,000 to help us reach our goal to take our first charter flight in 2012. 

More Matching Funds Approved by Qualcomm and Chase Bank 

Both Qualcomm and Chase Bank have approved HFSD for their employee matching fund programs. They both will match employee contributions to HFSD.

A big thanks to both Qualcomm and Chase Bank!

CALIFORNIA NATIONAL GUARD TO WELCOME WWII VETERANS HOME

Emotional trip honors our San Diego WWII veterans

 San Diego, CA. September 18, 2011 – At 12:55 PM on Sunday, September 18, San Diego will welcome home 16 local WWII veterans and 11 guardians, returning from a visit to the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. They will be honored by the San Diego Fire Department with a water canon salute as the plane approaches the gate and by the California National Guard as they exit the plane. The veterans, all in their 80’s and 90’s, never thought they would get to see the Memorial built in their honor. By the time the WWII Memorial was completed and dedicated in 2004 – 60 years after the end of the war – many of the veterans were unable to travel there, already living on a fixed income and coping with chronic health conditions. Honor Flight covers all costs involved with the trip and volunteer guardians go along to assist as needed.

 Veterans return from the trip describing the experience as “deeply emotionally moving,” “one of the most heart warming, enjoyable experiences of my life,” and “the best two and a half days of my life.” One man who traveled as a guardian with his father wrote that he has trouble even telling people about the trip without breaking down in tears. Sen. Bob and Elizabeth Dole frequently join other visitors at the Memorial in shaking their hands and thanking them for their service in the war that truly preserved our freedom. Honor Flight San Diego has flown over 90 veterans in the past year. Hundreds remain on the waiting list.

 Southwest Airlines is the official Honor Flight Network airline, flying veterans from Honor Flight hubs around the country. Southwest does an extraordinary job of entertaining, assisting, and honoring the veterans.

 Along with the WWII Memorial the veterans travel by bus to see the Korean War Memorial, the Iwo Jima memorial and the Air Force and Navy memorials.  Additionally, they attend the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery.

 Honor Flight Network and Honor Flight San Diego are non-profit 501(c)3 organizations created solely to honor America’s veterans for their service. Information about Honor Flight San Diego is available online at www.honorflightsandiego.org

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LOCAL SENIOR HEROES FINALLY SEE THEIR MEMORIAL

Emotional trip honors our San Diego WWII veterans

 San Diego, CA. JUNE 10, 2011 – On Sunday, June 11, San Diego will welcome home 19 local WWII veterans and 9 guardians, returning from a visit to the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. All the veterans are in their 80’s and 90’s and most never thought they would get to see the Memorial built in their honor. By the time the WWII Memorial was completed and dedicated in 2004 – 60 years after the end of the war – many of the veterans were unable to travel there due to age, illness, or cost.

 The veterans and their volunteer guardians left San Diego Friday morning and will return to Lindbergh Field Sunday at 1:30PM on Southwest Airlines. The majority of these veterans had waited for more than two years on a waiting list to make the trip at no cost to them after signing up with Honor Flight San Diego. Given that an estimated 1,200 WWII vets die each DAY, there is an urgency to completing these trips. San Diego alone has a waiting list of 300. Tamara Ledbetter, an Honor Flight San Diego guardian who accompanied her stepfather on a trip reflected on the weekend. “Being able to see the World War II Memorial in the company of those who fought to preserve the sanctity of freedom was overwhelming.”

 Along with the WWII Memorial the veterans travel by bus to see the Korean War Memorial, the Iwo Jima memorial and the Air Force and Navy memorials.  Additionally, they attend the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery.  Veterans will be welcomed home with cheers, applause and many thanks for their service and the preservation of our freedom.

 About Honor Flight Network and Honor Flight San Diego

Honor Flight Network and Honor Flight San Diego are non-profit 501(c)3 organizations created solely to honor America’s veterans for their service. Information about Honor Flight San Diego is available online at www.honorflightsandiego.org

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HONOR FLIGHT SAN DIEGO GRANTS TRIP TO WASHINGTON , D.C. FOR 31 LOCAL WWII VETERANS  

San Diego , CA. May 8, 2011 – Honor Flight San Diego is pleased to announce the completion of their first Honor Flight of 2011.

Only the second group to travel from the San Diego area, Honor Flight returned to California on May 8th, fulfilling the dream of 31 local World War II veterans. The majority of these veterans had patiently waited for more than two years after signing up to visit the memorial located in Washington D.C. created in honor of their service. Tamara Ledbetter, an Honor Flight San Diego guardian who accompanied her step-father on the trip reflected on the weekend. “Being able to see the World War II Memorial in the company of those who fought to preserve the sanctity of freedom was overwhelming. Honor Flight went out of their way to ensure that every veteran traveling with them had a safe and memorable trip.”

 Along with the WWII Memorial, Honor Flight San Diego arranged for site-seeing at other top Washington , D.C. sites, including the Korean War Memorial, the Iwo Jima memorial and the Air Force and Navy memorials.  Additionally, they made arrangements for the veterans to attend the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery .  Veterans were welcomed home with cheers, applause and much thanks for their service, as well as a commemorative book on the WWII memorial and an official Certificate of Thanks from Honor Flight San Diego.

 Honor Flight San Diego will host 20 WWII veterans on its next flight to Washington D. C. scheduled for June 10 – 12, 2011. Our veterans travel at no cost to them and Honor Flight San Diego’s ability to send our veterans depends on the generous donations of fellow Southern Californian’s.

About Honor Flight Network and Honor Flight San Diego

Honor Flight Network and Honor Flight San Diego are non-profit 501(c)3 organizations created solely to honor America ’s veterans for their service.  To date, the Network of locally sponsored hubs has flown over 65,000 veterans to Washington , D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials) at no out-of-pocket cost to the veterans. Information about Honor Flight San Diego and the work of the San Diego hub is available online at www.honorflightsandiego.org.

FRANK: Vets are the guests of honor on flight - North County Times

Nine World War II veterans from North County got the rock-star treatment during a visit to Washington, D.C., last month.

Honor Flight San Diego put together the trip, which was free to the veterans. The group formed in June with the mission to fly as many veterans as possible to the nation's capital so they can tour all the major war memorials, said Jeff Hall, director of logistics.

All veterans are eligible for the flights, but the group is focusing on those from World War II, since their numbers are diminishing quickly.

The travelers visited the World War II, Lincoln, Vietnam, Korean War and Iwo Jima memorials, among others. They also stopped at Arlington National Cemetery on the whirlwind two-night tour, whisked along on buses throughout the day.

"I was so impressed," said Paul Davis, a Vista resident who served with the Navy in the South Pacific during the war. "From the time we got to the airport, people were cheering us, congratulating us and wishing us well. ... Everything ran as smooth as silk. It was just amazing.

"At every event there were crowds of people cheering, waiting for us to arrive. It was very exciting."

The veterans shared stories about their war service and home lives and had lots of laughs together, said Davis.

The other North County veterans on the trip were: James Scotella and Jay Walker of Carlsbad; Lee Roy Case and John McKenzie of San Marcos; Wolfert Pores, William Warrick and Bob DeRenzy of Rancho Bernardo; and Everett Miller of Valley Center. Contact Honor Flight San Diego at 858-442-8337.

MILITARY: Local vets await free trips to D.C. with start-up branch of national charity

San Diego "hub" of Honor Flight Network spearheaded by children of veterans

By TOM PFINGSTEN - For the North County Times North County Times - The Californian | Posted: Friday, August 27, 2010 12:00 am

NORTH COUNTY ---- As a World War II veteran who participated in the 1944 invasion of Guam, Art Smith's service in the U.S. Marine Corps had been recognized before.

Among other honors, Smith's unit, the First Provisional Marine Brigade, was praised for its bravery by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal after the island was recaptured from the Japanese.

But it was a completely different experience to board a plane in May, 66 years later, and hear the pilot issue a unique public announcement.

"We got into the front of the plane and the pilot said, 'We are honored to have three World War II veterans on the plane today,' and all the passengers applauded," he recalled.

With two other San Diego veterans, Smith was traveling to Washington, D.C., with an Ohio-based nonprofit group called the Honor Flight Network. His trip was free, and more well-wishers awaited in the capital.

"When we got to Washington and went to these memorials ... everybody was shaking my hand," said Smith, whose son, Dave, accompanied him on the Memorial Day weekend trip.

Today, largely motivated by that father-son experience, Dave Smith and fellow North County resident Pam Russell have launched a San Diego branch of the Honor Flight Network.

An elegant and expensive World War II memorial was unveiled in the nation's capital in April 2004, prominently located across the long reflecting pool from the Lincoln Memorial. The Honor Flight Network has said its goal is to enable aging World War II veterans to visit the site without having to foot the bill.

Russell said her father, like Art Smith, has participated in a so-called "honor flight," and that he "felt so honored ... he's talked about it several times since then."

Russell said she was startled to discover that the nonprofit group didn't have a hub in Southern California.

"I said, 'You've got to be kidding me. We've got thousands of veterans around here,'" she recalled.

Russell said the San Diego branch is on the cusp of acquiring official nonprofit status and has already secured more than $30,000 in commitments.

"We want to take 30 veterans to Washington, D.C., in October," she said, adding that as many as 2,000 veterans from Southern California have applied for the honor flights. "Some of them have been on the waiting list for two or three years. We will always give preference to the oldest or most infirm, as long as they are medically approved to travel."

The veterans travel with "guardians" who assist with any medical issues that may arise, said Russell.

Besides the honor of visiting the monument that commemorates their valor during World War II, Russell said it's also proven to be therapeutic for veterans to exchange stories and reminisce.

"Our goal is that no veteran will pay a penny for their trip," she said.

Sabre Springs resident George Weimer, 84, said Wednesday that he applied this week for a flight.

The former Navy tail gunner said he recently suffered a stroke and would be unable to make the trip by himself.

"I haven't been to Washington in years ---- I'm an Easterner and would like to go back," said Weimer, adding that he was stationed in Atlantic City, N.J., for almost 20 years after the war ended.

"I wouldn't fly back East by myself. I can get around, but I'm limited," Weimer said. "I would like to go and see these new memorials."

And then, referring to Honor Flight, he added: "They made me an offer I couldn't refuse, and that's it."

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Honor Flight San Diego’s Inaugural Flight October 22-24, 2010

The first Hub of the national Honor Flight Network (www.honorflight.org) in Southern California flew  their inaugural Honor Flight October 22-24, 2010.  The flight was a 3-day trip to take World War II veterans to Washington, DC, to honor them for their sacrifices and service to our country.

The inaugural flight carried 10 Veterans and 5 Guardians (volunteers who fly with the veterans to assist them with their needs and ensure that their trip is memorable).  The Veterans for this trip served in the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Army and the Army Air Corps.  Their exploits included the assault on Iwo Jima, participation in Doolittle’s Raid, the invasion of Okinawa, the invasion of Italy and Sicily, to P38 fighter pilot in the European theater, B-17 pilot, with many decorations among them.

This generation of veterans is what has been termed the “humble heroes” of our nation, as most of them have never wanted fame or glory.  Of all the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as a nation—and as a culturally diverse, free society.  Now with World War II veterans dying at the rate of approximately 1500 per day, Honor Flight Network is taking the time to express thanks to these brave men and women for whom time is running out.  This is our opportunity as a society to thank them for saving our world and the freedoms we hold most dear.

There are still hundreds of World War II veterans waiting for their turn to travel on an Honor Flight.  If you are interested in donating, or for more information on the program, please contact Gary Roehm at  619-892-2058, email: gary@honorflightsandiego.org or Dave Smith at 858 442-8337, email: dave@honorflightsandiego.org .

Local group reaches out to military veterans with an offer they can’t refuse

BY DIANE BELL

MONDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2010 AT 9:30 P.M.

Three San Diego County World War II vets were treated to a free trip to Washington D.C. last Memorial Day weekend and a whirlwind tour of war memorials there.

They were guests of Honor Flight, a volunteer group that started in Ohio in 2005 to give aging World War II vets a chance to see the memorial that finally was dedicated in their honor in 2004. All they had to do was apply and wait for the call.

Edwin Coltrin, of Julian, was supposed to go on that Memorial Day trip. But, for him, the invitation came too late. He died in February.

It’s only fair that they get to see their own memorial before they die, says Pam Russell, of Rancho Bernardo, whose father, from North Carolina, took the tour. She and San Diegan David Smith both accompanied their fathers and were so moved by the excursion, and veterans’ reactions, that they determined to make San Diego an Honor Flight hub.

A short four months later, they have done just that. On Oct. 22, they’ll send their inaugural group of 10 local veterans with five guardian caretakers. With an estimated 1,000 World War II vets dying each day, about two every three minutes, it’s none too soon.

Nearly 1,500 veterans from California, including 500 from the San Diego region, had submitted applications to the Ohio group. In fact, one North County vet taking the Oct. 22 trip was so anxious to go he sent in seven applications.

Another, Bronze Star recipient Edward “Ted” Paradis, 84, served in World War II with his father and two brothers, all now deceased. Plus, his nephew, Wayne Caron, was a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam . Paradis, of Oceanside, would like to visit his grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

Santee resident Art Mercer, 89, a chief gunnery mate in the Navy, has had his request in since 2007.
National Honor Flight Network Chairman Jim McLaughlin says the program has now expanded to 108 hubs in 38 states. He is grateful that San Diegans have stepped in to create a hub www.honorflightsandiego.org  because many more Southern California vets will get to go.

Smith says the new group hopes to schedule six trips next year, with as many as 30 veterans each. The only barrier is cost, about $2,000 per vet. The local New Car Dealers Association has donated $30,000, Southwest Airlines is contributing plane tickets, and pleas are going out to defense contractors and others.

“They built everybody else’s memorial, but they didn’t build ours until 2004 (59 years after the war),” said Paradis, whose health is in decline. I didn’t have any hopes of going. Then Pam called me.”
diane.bell@uniontrib.com (619) 293-1598.

 

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