O&A Honor Flight raising funds for Washington, D.C. trip
Siloam Springs Firefighters Association 2285 donated a $500 check to the Oklahoma and Arkansas Honor Flight on Saturday afternoon.
The organization is raising money for its third honor flight to Washington D.C., and the second honor flight to leave from the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, according to director Rob Hopkins. The flight will be taking 72 local veterans, including at least three veterans from Siloam Springs, on a tour of the memorials and monuments in the nation’s capital on April 19.
The Cherokee Casino in West Siloam Springs, Okla., will be hosting a send-off ceremony on the evening of April 18, and veterans will stay the night in donated hotel rooms so they can get an early start at 4:30 a.m. the next morning. They will be bused to
the airport, with an escort from local law enforcement agencies, Hopkins said.
John Morris, of Siloam Springs, a Purple Heart Veteran of the Korean War, attended the check presentation on Saturday along with Siloam Springs veterans Bennie Gallant and Bobby Sikes Jr., who both fought in the Vietnam War. Morris said that visiting the Korean War Memorial in Washington means “everything” to him.
Morris visited Washington once before, but the Korean War Memorial had not been built at that point.
“I’ve got a lot of friends on that wall,” he said.
Sikes is looking forward to visiting all the monuments, especially the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Vietnam War Memorial.
“This is a once-in-alifetime trip,” said Sikes, who has never been to Washington.
It will be far from Gallant’s first trip to Washington. He served as a police officer in the city for a number of years, but he is looking forward to seeing the memorials, especially the World War II Memorial.
To Gallant, the flight means that someone loved the veterans enough to send them, he said.
It takes about $500 to send one veteran on the honor flight, Hopkins said. Each veteran is escorted by a guardian, either a family member or a volunteer, who pays for their own travel expenses.
Brett Duncan, a member of the local firefighter’s union, said the organization considered it a privilege to contribute.
“It means the world to us,” he said.
Siloam Springs Firefighters Association 2285 is a part of the International Association of Firefighters. They work to raise money for causes such as Camp Sunshine and to support local firefighters.
Duncan approached his fellow firefighters about donating money to O&A Honor Flight after serving as a guardian on a flight last year, according to Tony Peevy-house, secretary of the organization. The union members were immediately on board with the idea, he said.
“Veterans are very inspiring to us and we take honor in being able to send a local veteran from Siloam Springs,” said Peevy-house.
O&A Honor Flight is still seeking funding for the upcoming flight, Hopkins said. For more information or to donate visit www.oahonorflight.org.
The Siloam Springs Firefighters Association 2285 donated a $500 check to the Oklahoma and Arkansas Honor Flight on Saturday afternoon. Members of VFW 1674 posted the colors.