The Honor Flights program in South Carolina is working to establish another hub in our state to provide the state’s World War II veterans the opportunity to visit the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C.
The group that offers free trips to the war memorial in Washington for the South Carolina veterans currently has a Lowcountry hub, a hub in the Midlands and an Upstate hub. But volunteer and board member of Honor Flights, Bert Cassels is working to organize flights that will leave from the Myrtle Beach area.
(Bert Cassels MP3 4:27) MP3 4:27
“When we’re looking at WW II Veterans, they’re getting up in age. And it was my feeling that it would be difficult for a veteran down in the Grand Strand- Myrtle Beach area to travel to either Charleston, Columbia, or Kershaw. And so it would be much easier to do it from the Myrtle Beach International Airport,” said Cassels.
Cassels says he knows his challenges in getting the word out. “The problem that I’m having right now, is establishing a relationship with various organizations down in this area, which will enable me to identify the veterans, and then let me go speak to the veterans, or doing it through television or the radio, or a variety of different opportunities from here. Just simply to let them know that we’re here.”
The Honor Flights program allows many veterans who would never have the opportunity to see the memorial that was erected in their honor.
Bill Dukes, Chairman of Honor Flights of South Carolina tells what it was like to visit the memorial with his 94-year-old father. “It was one of the most emotional experiences that I think our family has ever had together. When Dad was there and stood over the plaque that recognized the battle that he was in at Pai Lou –it was quite emotional.”
Dukes works hard to fill the plane for each trip to Washington.”We charter a US Air plane and try to have anywhere from 95 to 110 WWII veterans on the flight. The number of WWII veterans we can take really depends upon what the physical conditions are. We’re commited to taking a guardian -or a group of guardians to support our WWII veterans.”
Dukes discovered what a wonderful opportunity the trips are for the veterans to get to know each other and share their experiences. “Ninety-five veterans come together. That’s 95 comrades from WWII. I don’t believe that those 95 would have ever expected -in their lives that they would have this chance to be together again with nearly 100 of their comrads.
Additional information is available online. Persons from the Myrtle Beach hub may contact Bert Cassel at 843-957-8212.
Honor Flight is a national organization begun in 2004 by retired US Air Force Captain Earl Morse from Springfield, Ohio.