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WWII Vets Apply for Flight

"South Carolina Living"  Magazine

November 01, 2011

South Carolina's electric cooperatives are partnering with Honor Flight of South Carolina to send World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. Get the details and find out how to apply.

(Columbia, SC)  - World War II veterans: South Carolina's electric cooperatives want to honor you by making sure you're on the next Honor Flight. The cooperatives have partnered with Honor Flight of South Carolina to send up to 100 WWII veterans on the next flight to Washington, D.C., April 11, 2012.  The purpose of Honor Flight is to make sure every World War II veteran has a chance to see the WWII memorial in our nation's capital.  Flights take veterans to D.C. for a one-day tour that also includes visits to the Korea, Vietnam and Iwo Jima memorials as well as a visit to Arlington

Any American veteran who served in the armed forces during World War II who has not previously been on an Honor Flight is eligible.  Preference will be given to members of electric cooperatives and their families, but all veterans are urged to apply.

South Carolina's electric cooperatives, which together serve more than 1.5 million people in all 46 counties, are funding the April 11th flight.  This is the first time in the history of Honor Flight of South Carolina that one group has paid for an entire trip.

To submit an online application, click on the box on this page. Applications should be submitted by March 1, 2012

Co-ops’ donation a boost for Honor Flight program

Friday, Nov. 25, 2011

By JEFF WILKINSON - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Honor Flight program in South Carolina, which flies World War II veterans for free to Washington to see their national memorial, will get a huge boost today.

The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina will announce at an afternoon news conference a $60,000 donation from its member companies, officials said. The gift — by far the largest ever made to Honor Flight of South Carolina by a single organization — will underwrite an entire flight of 100 to 120 veterans in the spring.

“It’s the first time in the history of our efforts that a single group has underwritten the cost of an entire flight,” said Honor Flight of South Carolina co-chairman and founder Bill Dukes. “It’s just a blessing.”

In addition, the co-ops’ 2,300 employees will canvass their mostly rural areas for veterans who may not have heard of the program. With World War II veterans passing away in large numbers, Mike Couick, chief executive of the association that represents electric cooperatives in the state, said it’s important to find them now and thank them for their service.

“It will be a co-op family effort,” he said. “We’re going to use as many of our local resources as possible to help Honor Flight of South Carolina reach every last veteran who wants to make this trip.”

Since 2009, Honor Flight programs across South Carolina have flown about 2,400 World War II veterans for free to Washington to see their memorial. In addition to the Columbia-based Honor Flight of South Carolina, there also are chapters in the Upstate, Lowcountry and Pee Dee.

The next Columbia flight had been planned for May 23. However, the gift from the co-ops will allow an additional flight to be added on April 11.

The vets are given a rousing send-off at Columbia Metropolitan Airport, and are given a heroes’ welcome in Washington, often met by such dignitaries as former Sen. Bob Dole and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. The vets visit their memorial, as well as the Washington Monument and Korea memorial, the Iwo Jima and Air Force memorials, and Arlington National Cemetery, where they are special guests for the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“Guardians” are on hand to assist the veterans, each paying $500 for the privilege, which helps offset some of the flight’s cost. Also, the flights have two physicians on board, in case of health problems.

Each flight costs about $60,000 to take about 100 vets on the trip. Dukes, a Columbia restaurateur, said the spring flights are important because many of the veterans are in their 90s and might not be able to take the flight later if their health declines. An estimated 670 World War II veterans die each day across the nation, according to the U.S. Veterans Administration.

“We knew we were losing a lot of veterans just by looking at the obituaries,” Dukes said. “So we were trying to raise money for two flights. And then the phone rang. It was a ‘wow’ thing.”

Honor Flight organizers said they do not know how many World War II vets live in South Carolina, but they are passing rapidly.

In August, Col. Charles P. Murray Jr., an Honor Flight co-chairman and Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, passed away. As a fundraising event for the spring flights, a golf tournament will be held in his honor. First Citizens bank is a primary sponsor, but others interested in sponsoring, donating or participating can call Jerry Neely at (803) 932-9002.

The crew chiefs of the S.C. Air National Guard 169th Fighter Wing, the Swamp Fox, already have pitched in $2,500 from a golf tournament they sponsored this month, Dukes said.

Nationally, the Honor Flight Network has 73 hubs in 30 states, all dedicated to flying as many veterans as possible to the memorial.

Earl Morse, a physician’s assistant and retired U.S. Air Force captain from Springfield, Ohio, started Honor Flight in 2004 to honor veterans he had treated. On a whim, he flew one veteran to the memorial himself in a small plane, and then asked other pilots to donate flights for other veterans.

The program grew in the Midwest and then was picked up by Jeff Miller in Hendersonville, N.C. From there, it began spreading throughout the Southeast.

The town of Simpsonville organized the first Honor Flight in South Carolina in May 2008, flying 101 veterans from the Upstate after Mayor Dennis Waldrop and his wife, Betty, saw a feature on “CBS Sunday Morning.”

But the program really took wing in November 2008 when Dukes formed Honor Flight of South Carolina in the Midlands. Now, Charleston and Myrtle Beach have Honor Flight chapters, and a flight was even organized by the tiny town of Kershaw in Lancaster County.


To apply for a seat on the April 11 honor flight, go to or call (803) 739-3024. To donate or get more information on the honor flight program, go to

Honor Flights still soar

Honor Flights still soar

Next trip from Columbia is scheduled for Nov. 9

By JEFF WILKINSON - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

As a 19-year-old soldier in World War II, Walter Schlaefflin endured the Battle of the Bulge, fought through Alsace and battled in the Ruhr Valley.


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