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Canceled

COVID-19 grounds Honor Flights

Messenger photo by Bill Shea
Brandishing two flasks, World War II re-enactor John Liszewski, of Maryland, asks Air Force veteran Pete Oppedahl, of Fort Dodge, center, if his shots are up to date. Liszewski greeted the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., in May 2019.

COVID-19 has grounded the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flights for 2020.

The committee that organizes the flights announced that it has scrapped all plans to fly veterans to Washington, D.C., this year to see the nation’s war memorials.

A flight scheduled for May 9 had previously been postponed until Aug.22. Now that flight and one scheduled for Sept. 21 have been canceled as organizers set their sights on two planned flights next year.

“Cancelling our 2020 Honor Flights has been a difficult decision,” said Ron Newsum, the chairman of the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight Committee. “However, the safety of our veterans has always been and will continue to be the No. 1 priority of the Honor Flight Network.”

He noted that the veterans who participate are older and “are among the most vulnerable of the population as it relates to serious complications and death from COVID-19.”

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
John Brown poses with the Iowa column at the World War II memorial during the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight in September 2019.

The local group’s action comes in the wake of a directive from the national Honor Flight organization calling for all flights to be canceled for the remainder of 2020.

Brushy Creek Area Honor Flights are scheduled for next year on May 8 and Aug. 28.

Veterans who had been scheduled to go on the May 9, 2020, flight will be invited to go on the May 8, 2021, trip.

The Brushy Creek Area Honor Flights take veterans to Washington for free. The trips are paid for by donations and fundraisers.

The first flight took place on May 1, 2010. Since then there have been two flights a year.

Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Bob Kearney takes in the names on a wall at the Air Force Memorial while on the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight in September 2019.

Initially, only World War II veterans could participate. Over the years, the flights were opened to veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars. Last year, eligibility was extended to veterans who served during peacetime in between those three wars.

The flights depart from Fort Dodge Regional Airport before dawn and go to Dulles International Airport in the Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In Washington, the veterans take a whirlwind tour of the nation’s war memorials then go to Arlington National Cemetery to witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. The veterans return to Fort Dodge late at night to a rousing welcome.

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