As part of our ongoing anniversary celebration, were updating some of our most memorable stories. In 2007, we introduced you to Honor Flight, a high-flying salute to American military veterans.
In 2005, Earl Morse, a physicians assistant and retired Air Force captain in Enon, Ohio, founded a group to take World War II veterans, many of them elderly or lacking funds, to see the newly dedicated memorial honoring them in Washington, D.C.
I realized that time was running out to honor this group of people who literally saved the world, Morse explains. They finally had a memorial, and some of them had no way to see it. That was something we needed to change.
Morses nonprofit Honor Flight program literally took off. What began as a handful of pilots serving a few local veterans with small Piper and Cessna planes expanded into a nationwide network of volunteers transporting thousands of veterans courtesy of chartered flights, including a few 747s.
Weve flown over 50,000 vets so far, says Morse, 52. Across the country, 94 cities in 34 states are participating.
The program has grown in other ways, too. Another focus group weve added is terminally ill Korean and Vietnam War vets, Morse says. They go to the top of our list.
After American Profiles cover story, Morse heard from hundreds of veterans and their family members, as well as from numerous potential donors and volunteers.
The greatest aspect of this for me has been learning that our vets are cherished across the nation, he says, not just in Ohio.