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Honor Flight to be recognized by National Aviation Hall of Fame

Posted: 11:47 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012

Honor Flight to be recognized by National Aviation Hall of Fame

By Barrie Barber


Honor Flight Network will join the ranks of Earth orbiting and moon walking astronauts, the Tuskegee Airmen and the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders at the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

The organization that flies veterans to Washington, D.C., from throughout the nation to tour monuments and memorials in the nation’s capital was chosen for the Milton Caniff “Spirit of Aviation” award, the Aviation Hall of Fame has announced.

“Just to even mention us for the same award is so humbling I cannot believe we are going to be joining those ranks,” said Earl Morse, founder of Honor Flight. “It is so humbling for all of us in the program.”

Honor Flight first took wing in 2005 when six planes flew a dozen World War II veterans out of the Springfield-Buckley Municipal Airport to Washington, D.C., to see the memorial to the war they served in.

Since then, the program based in Springfield has expanded exponentially. Honor Flight has flown about 100,000 veterans from nearly 120 “hubs” to Washington, D.C., since the first flight lifted off from the Miami Valley, said Morse of Enon.

“It’s speaks loud and clear to the commitment of thousands of volunteers across the nation that are doing everything we can to get veterans to their memorial before they pass away,” the physician’s assistant and Air Force retiree said.

Honor Flight will receive the award Dec. 17 at an Aviation Trail Inc. ceremony honoring the 109th anniversary of the Wright brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina.

“It’s been a huge campaign and so many veterans and their families have benefited from it and continue to,” said Ron Kaplan, National Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinement director. “They really are a worthy group to be added to that roster.” The Hall of Fame has given the award every year since 1981.

The National Aviation Hall of Fame, inside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, is set to announce its 2013 inductees the same day. The gathering also will recognize Bill McNabb, an Aviation Trail president who was a pilot for Honor Flight, among other roles.

The awards will be given at a ceremony at the Presidential Banquet Center, 4548 Presidential Drive, Kettering. Tickets to the public event cost $50 per person. Veterans who have flown on Honor Flight treks will attend the ceremony, said Helen Kavanaugh Jones, vice president of Aviation Trail Inc. They also will tour the Air Force museum and attend a wreath laying ceremony at Huffman Hill, said Betty Darst, a Hall of Fame vice president of enshrinement.

To make a reservation to the dinner by Dec. 11, send a check to Aviation Trail, Inc., P.O. Box 633, Wright Brothers Branch, Dayton, Ohio 45409. State a preference for a chicken, prime rib or vegetarian meal.

Lou Fowler (left) with Jim Allen

World War II veterans unite

September 06, 2012

It was a reunion that was 67 years in the making for Columbia’s Lou Fowler and Aiken’s Jim Allen.  That reunion happened Wednesday during an orientation for the Sept. 26th co-op sponsored Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

Fowler, a former World War II prisoner-of-war, was speaking to the gathering of veterans and their guardians about his experiences as a POW.  During his captivity, Fowler says he was beaten, jabbed with bayonets and refused medical treatment.  Food was hard to come by.  Sanitation was non-existent.  He thought he was going to die.  But in the waning days of the war, Fowler and three fellow prisoners made a daring escape and headed into the countryside towards the American troops.  And what Fowler told the group next was something that veteran Jim Allen could hardly believe.  Fowler and the others were rescued a day later by a group of American soldiers--the 104th Infantry (Timberwolf) Division.  It turns out that division is the very same one Allen served in.

Shortly after the orientation wrapped up, the two men met.

“This World War II veteran (Allen) was in the division that liberated me from a German prison camp in 1945,” Fowler said with a huge grin.   “This is the first guy that I have met, with the division that liberated me, the first person I’ve ever met in more than 65 years.”

The two men could hardly contain their smiles as they remembered that liberation day—April  26, 1945—just like it was yesterday.  Hugs followed, but no tears.  Not for these men.  Fowler compared the emotions of liberation to those he experienced when he first saw the World War II Memorial—the first stop of the day for veterans on the Honor Flight.  “It is the most beautiful memorial,” Fowler said.  And as he told Allen and the other vets, “That is your memorial.”

Van O'Cain


S.C. veterans gather at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C

Veterans take Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

September 28, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nineteen electric cooperatives joined Honor Flight of South Carolina yesterday to fly 85 veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorial built in their honor and other historic sites. It was the second co-op-sponsored flight this year in honor of South Carolinians who fought in World War II. This is a generation of people who are leaving us too quickly, said Bill Dukes, Honor Flight of South Carolina president. Their average age is over 88, so it’s important that we honor them before we lose that opportunity. In fact the oldest vet on this trip was 94, the youngest 82.

The trip, free to the veterans and paid for by 19 electric cooperatives in South Carolina, was part of a series of flights organized by Honor Flight of South Carolina, which has been arranging flights for veterans since 2008. This trip adds to the more than 81,000 veterans nationwide who have taken honor flights since 2005, when a small group of Ohio vets were ferried to Washington, D.C., in private planes. “It’s been a real blessing,” said Dukes, referring to the cooperatives’ underwriting of a second honor flight. “We’ve been able to reach a large number of rural veterans through these co-op-sponsored flights, vets who otherwise may not have heard of Honor Flight.”

The one-day trip began with an 8 a.m. chartered flight from Columbia to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, where giant water cannons created a ceremonial arc over the plane as it taxied to the gate.  When they entered the terminal, veterans were greeted by a small brass band and women, dressed as war-era USO girls, who welcomed the vets in the airport. Scores of busy travelers stopped by the gate with well-wishes for the veterans, many of whom were greeted with cheers, hugs and handshakes.

From the airport, the veterans traveled directly to the World War II Memorial. Dedicated in 2004, the oval-shaped site includes 56 granite pillars, one for each state and territory from that period and the District of Columbia. The granite for these pillars, known as “Kershaw” was quarried in South Carolina. Two-thirds of the 7.4-acre memorial site is landscaping and water  During their stop at the Memorial, the vets took photos and shared stories.  A bugler solemnly played “Taps” as the entire group gathered for a photograph underneath the South Carolina pillar. The American and South Carolina flags were presented.

After lunch, buses took the vets on a tour of Washington with stops at other memorials on the National Mall—Korea, Vietnam, and Lincoln—before they crossed the Potomac River and visited the Iwo Jima and Air Force Memorials. Upon arriving at Arlington National Cemetery, an escort took the buses into the cemetery—a special exception the cemetery makes for these aging visitors. They watched the military precision of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, the quiet reverence broken only by the relief commander’s orders, the clicking of the soldiers’ shoes and the snap of the rifles into place on their shoulders.

By 6:30 p.m., the Columbia-bound plane was in the air. In one final surprise, awaiting the veterans’ return were hundreds of people who lined the airport terminal to give the vets a rousing welcome home. Among the dignitaries who were there to express their gratitude was South Carolina Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell.

“These two Honor Flights have been very rewarding for our family of electric cooperatives,” said Mike Couick, CEO of the state association of electric cooperatives. “It’s a humbling experience to spend time in the presence of these heroes’ who’ve done so much for our state and country.”

Readers may post words of appreciation to the veterans for their service at

Member of Honor Flight of SC Advisory Committee dies at age 90

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One of our most up front Volunteers, David Epting, has passed away. David and wife, Julie were regulars at the greeting table for our Orientations. David felt very strongly about the honor we were able to share with our Vets. He was quiet and efficient, humble and sharing thanks...We will miss David. Our hearts are with Julie.

David A. Epting Jr. COLUMBIA - David A. Epting, Jr., 90, was born in Columbia, South Carolina and was the son of Annie Davis Epting (a teacher in Columbia City Schools) and David Andrew Epting, Sr. (a pharmacist at Wingfield Drug Store). After completing Taylor, Wardlaw, and Columbia High Schools, David enrolled at Newberry College where he completed work on a Bachelor Degree in Psychology. Before graduation, he enrolled in the United States Navy V-12 Officers Training Program, which he completed in 1943. He received his commission at Notre Dame and completed the Navy Supply Corps School at Harvard. He attained the rank of Commander, USNR. After his service to his country was completed, David was employed by the U.S. Postal Service. In 1948, he joined Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company, became the South Carolina Cashier in 1955 and retired as Treasury Cashier in 1982. David's community activities included the Executive Club of Columbia (President), Town Theatre Board of Governors (three terms), Columbia Lion's Club (President), South Carolina State Lion's Club (District Governor), North Marion Street (Cottontown) Community Association (Treasurer) and President Committee of Newberry College. His honors included the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Newberry College, Volunteer of the Year (Eye Bank) and Lion of the Year for the Columbia Lion's Club. David was baptized at Ebenezer Lutheran Church in the old Church (now the Chapel) and was a life-long member, serving as a Sunday school teacher and a council member. He also achieved the status of Honorary Council Member for his service to the Church. He occupied the same pew for 81 years. His wife, Julie Derrick Epting, survives him. David served his Lord by ministering to the sick, the needy, the elderly and people from all walks of life. His love and service to mankind is known throughout the Midlands. He leaves friends of all ages that will cherish his memory forever. He made a difference in each of the lives he touched and all are better for having known him. David's legacy will live on through the David A. Epting Scholarship Fund at Newberry College, which he endowed in memory of his father and also in the restoration of the Chapel at Ebenezer Lutheran Church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the David A. Epting Scholarship Fund at Newberry College, 2100 College Street, Newberry, South Carolina 29108. Also, memorials may be directed to the Ebenezer Chapel Maintenance Fund, 1301 Richland Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201-2578. A private burial was held at Elmwood Cemetery on Sunday, September 16, 2012. David twinkling eyes and shy, sweet smile were beacons to be enjoyed by all he met. "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."  (Matthew 5:16) A Memorial Service will take place on Friday, September 21, 2012, at Ebenezer Lutheran Church at 4:00 P.M. Music will begin at 3:30 P.M. Dunbar Funeral Home, Devine Street Chapel, is assisting the family.

Published in The State on September 18, 2012


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