Honor Flight provides local veterans with trips to WWII Memorial

Published 9:49 am Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Photo Contributed Veterans enjoy their time at the World War II Memorial during the most recent trip by Honor Flight in April.

Photo Contributed
Veterans enjoy their time at the World War II Memorial during the most recent trip by Honor Flight in April.

There will be no shortage of time to honor veterans, as long as Edie Lowry has anything to say about it.
Lowry operates the Northeast Tennessee branch of the Honor Flight – a national organization that assists with trips for World War II veterans to see the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. – from Erwin and works within Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia.
“Our primary goal is to show respect to our veterans,” Lowry said. “We’re losing one WWII veteran every 90 seconds each day. These trips are free to the veterans since they’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice of keeping us free.”
The sentiments shared by Lowry is also the message behind Honor Flight, according to the national’s branch website, which states: “of all of the wars in recent memory, it was WWII that truly threatened our very existence as a nation—and as a culturally diverse, free society. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day. Our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out.”
Lowry began working on the Honor Flight of Northeast Tennessee in 2012 and conducted her first mission that same year, sending 22 veterans to Washington.
“We want to take as many veterans as we can on each mission,” Lowry said. “Our WWII veterans receive top priority, but we also take veterans that served in Korea and Vietnam.”
And the Honor Flight has flown high with pride in Carter County, Lowry said, with the organization sending over 20-plus veterans from the area on a trip to Washington.
“We have taken quite a few from Carter County,” Edie said with a laugh.
David Batchelder, the Carter County veteran service officer, had kind sentiments to spread about the Honor Flight.
“They believe that since America felt it was important to build a memorial to the service and ultimate sacrifice or her veterans that it is important that veterans have an opportunity to visit their memorial,” Batchelder said. “They are dedicated to helping every single veteran in East Tennessee, willing and able of getting on a plane or a bus to visit their memorial.”
Honor Flight currently has 130 flight hubs in 44 states across the U.S. with nearly 21,000 veterans reportedly being flown as of 2015.
The application process is simple to take part in a mission, Lowry said. There are two applications available, one for veterans and another for guardians. The guardians that take part in each trip volunteer their time to be with the servicemen and women that participate in each adventure, Edie said.
“Guardians agree to work with veterans for the weekend,” she added. “They spend the weekend with the veterans to give their time for those that gave their time for us.”
The Northeast Tennessee Honor Flight will begin fundraising efforts before the next mission. Lowry mentioned the upcoming Honor Flight Poker Run and Car Show scheduled for August 6 in Piney Flats and a benefit breakfast scheduled for Central Church of Christ in Johnson City September 17. Honor Flight will also have other events throughout the year with information being posted to their website.
Each event will serve as tool for raising funds, with every penny going back to the veterans to cover the cost of travel, Lowry said.
Honor Flight’s location branch spans into other states, with no central hub in North Carolina or Virginia.
“As long as they can make it to Johnson City, we can work with them,” Edie said.
For more information, visit Honor Flight’s website at honorflightnetn.org, visit the Honor Flight of North East Tennessee Facebook page or call Lowry at 423-330-6189.

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