05.22.19

W.Va. veterans travel to D.C. for Always Free Honor Flight

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thirty-one veterans and their families were welcomed Wednesday to the nation’s capital for the 10th Always Free Honor Flight, a program which takes veterans from West Virginia on a journey that lets them see the national monuments which were erected in their honor. 

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. provided each veteran with a Congressional Record Statement to recognize their trip to Washington, D.C., which included a visit to the Arlington Cemetery, Iwo Jima Memorial, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 

“It is truly an honor to welcome these 31 veterans and their families to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials that have been built to honor their service to this country. The sacrifices made by these Veterans have allowed this country to remain safe, free and the greatest country on earth,” Manchin said. “West Virginia is one of the most patriotic states and these West Virginia Veterans embody the Mountain State’s history and contributions made to safeguard America’s liberty. 

“I am so proud that through today’s Honor Flight, these veterans can be honored for their sacrifices and shown the gratitude they deserve. I’d also like to thank my good friends Dreama Denver, Pam Coulbourne and the whole Always Free Honor Flight Network for making this trip possible for our veterans,” Manchin stated. 

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito also took time to meet with the Honor Flight veterans. 

“Greeting West Virginia veterans at the World War II Memorial is one of the highlights of my year. My dad fought in WWII, so I have a soft spot for the Greatest Generation. Honor Flights give veterans the unique opportunity to reflect on their service and find closure and community while visiting Washington. I’m so pleased to join my colleagues in welcoming our state’s heroes,” Capito said. 

Of the Honor Flight veterans attending this year’s program, one served in World War II, two served in both World War II and the Korean War, one served in the Korean War, 10 served in the Vietnam War, one served in Vietnam and Desert Storm, one served in the Cold War, one served in Desert Storm and the Gulf War, two served in the war in Afghanistan, and many others served between wars. 

They were accompanied by one JROTC Cadet, Theresa Riggs, volunteering as a guardian from Montcalm High School in Montcalm;, the President of the Denver Foundation and Little Buddy Radio, Dreama Denver; the Always Free Honor Flight organizer Pam Coulbourne; Vice President of Always Free Honor Flight and JROTC Instructor Sgt. Paul Dorsey, board member and official photographer of the Always Free Honor Flight and the Denver Foundation Steve Coleman; in addition to veterans’ family members and medics. 

“There is something so special about every single Honor Flight and this one was no different,” Denver told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph during the return trip to Mercer County. The trip had started near Princeton early that morning. “It’s honestly a combination of personalities that makes each trip different.” 

“I’m so grateful to Senator Manchin and Senator Capito,” Denver said. “And let me tell you that we had a special guest, Joe Blunt. He was the lead singer for ‘The Drifters,’ and he came to sing the National Anthem for our Honor Flight.” 

The Honor Flight Network is a nationwide effort that raises funds to ensure that veterans have the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. free of cost to see the monuments that were built in their honor. In West Virginia, the Always Free Honor Flight Network was established thanks to the Denver Foundation and Little Buddy Radio, located in Princeton, West Virginia. These non-profit organizations were founded by Bob Denver, who played Gilligan on “Gilligan’s Island,” and his wife Dreama, a West Virginia native.


By:  Greg Jordan
Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph