Honor Flight of the Ozarks at the World War II Memorial. (Photo provided by the Office of Congressman Eric Burlison)

In its first trip of 2023, the Honor Flight of the Ozarks took 80 veterans from the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks, along with 80 guardians, to Washington D.C.

At 5 a.m. on Wednesday, May 17, Springfield Mayor Ken McClure wished the veterans well moments before takeoff at the Springfield-Branson National Airport. 

Honor Flight of the Ozarks Flight Coordinator David Snider (left) and Derringer Fenton, a new volunteer and former Tomb Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. (Photo provided by Honor Flight of the Ozarks)

Upon arrival in Washington, they took a trip to the World War II Memorial, where they were greeted by Missouri’s 7th District Congressman Eric Burlison. That wasn’t the only elected official who met with the veterans on the Honor Flight, as U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Missouri, awaited the group at the Korean War Veterans Memorial, a war which eight of the attendees served in.

The group also visited the Air Force Memorial, the Marine Corps War Memorial and the Arlington National Cemetery, where they saw the Changing of the Guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and two wreath laying ceremonies. 

The Honor Flight also recognized 11 veterans who have passed away through the Yesterday’s Hero Program, in which their images are placed with an American flag in appropriate memorials, and photos of the memorials are sent back to the veterans’ families.

The Arlington, Virginia Police Department escorted the Honor Flight group back to the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and, upon their return to Springfield around 9 p.m., the group was greeted by more than 2,000 family members and friends after an “unforgettable day.”

There are two more Honor Flight scheduled this year on Aug. 23 and Oct. 25. Veterans who received an honorable discharge, whether they served overseas or not, in World War II, Korea, the Vietnam era or the Gulf War can attend for free, and accompanying guardians pay $500.

Honor Flight of the Ozarks at the Springfield-Branson National Airport. (Photo provided by the Office of Congressman Eric Burlison)

Jack McGee

Jack McGee is the government affairs reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. He previously covered politics and business for the Daily Citizen. He’s an MSU graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and a minor political science. Reach him at jmcgee@sgfcitizen.org or (417) 837-3663. More by Jack McGee