• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Honor Flight gives war vets 'a welcome home'

Three Woodford Countians are among more than 40 World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans being flown from Blue Grass Airport to Washington, D.C., on Aug. 27. The upcoming Honor Flight provides these veterans with an all-expenses-paid chartered trip to see the war memorials dedicated to their military service and sacrifices. Perhaps most significantly, Lonnie Adkins, Delmer "Bob" Picklesimer, David Settles and the other veterans will receive "a welcome home" at Blue Grass Airport, which many did not receive when they returned to the states after their military service overseas. "The bulk of them tell me that it's one of the best days of their lives," said Jeff Masters, of Honor Flight Kentucky. The Lexington-based nonprofit, all-volunteer organization provides Honor Flight experiences for World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans in Central, Southern and Eastern Kentucky. Besides their homecoming, traveling with other military veterans allows the veterans to share stories about their wartime experiences that no one else can understand. "You can tell (other veterans) stories that you couldn't tell your family, that you couldn't tell your friends," said Masters. "And it's a tremendous way for them to get rid of some of the baggage they carry around." A guardian - typically a son, grandson, daughter or other family member - provides every veteran with a companion to capture memories on their Honor Flight experience with a camera. Veterans are scheduled to return to Blue Grass Airport at around 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27. About 1,500 people greeted veterans returning to Kentucky from the most recent Honor Flight, according to Masters. With hundreds of World War II veterans dying every day, Masters said Honor Flight Kentucky was organized last fall to ensure more veterans from this area can fly to Washington, D.C., and then receive the homecoming they deserve. The nation's inaugural Honor Flight happened in 2005 when 12 World War II veterans were flown to Washington, D.C., so they could see the National World War II Memorial dedicated to their service. More than 130 Honor Flight chapters are now located in 42 states. A second Honor Flight Kentucky will happen on Oct. 1. And a third Honor Flight Kentucky is planned for next spring. Prior to organizing its inaugural Honor Flight on Aug. 27, the Lexington-based chapter and Honor Flight Bluegrass, which is based in Louisville, did a few joint Honor Flights, Masters said.

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