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Western ND Honor Flight taking applications, raising funds

It may take longer for the Western ND Honor Flight for veterans to get off the ground for its flight due to COVID-19 concerns but applications are being taken and funds for the flight are continuing to be raised.

Beth Bouley, Grand Forks, national mentor for the Honor Flight Network, said the National Honor Flight Network has suspended all Honor Flights until Aug. 31, due to the coronavirus.

“They will reevaluate further fall flight possibilities in the future. If the fall flights are canceled, it will mean the cancellation of 134 flights nationwide. The cancellation of these flights is not taken lightly but our first concern must be the health of our veterans,” said Bouley.

Western ND Honor Flight is a sanctioned hub of the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit organization based in Ohio. The network’s mission is to transport American veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifice of themselves and friends.

Bouley said the Western ND Flight covers 25 counties in western North Dakota and applications are currently being taken from veterans up to and including the Vietnam era.

“Applicants are prioritized in chronological order of conflict era (i.e. World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War) and on a first-come, first-served basis within their military service era,” Bouley said.

She said any veteran who has served in the U.S. military, including U.S. Reserves and National Guard, is eligible for an Honor Flight trip. Combat service or foreign deployment is not required.

“The only criteria for eligibility are service in the U.S. military. Confirmed terminally ill veterans will be given the same priority as World War II veterans and moved to the top of the list,” Bouley said.

According to Western North Dakota Honor Flight information, when the flight takes place, generally it will leave on a Sunday morning from Bismarck aboard a chartered jet and fly nonstop to Washington, D.C.

The tour stops will include The Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery, Iwo Jima Memorial, FDR Memorial, National Archives to see the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights and also the World War II, Korean, Vietnam and Lincoln Memorials. The group will return to Bismarck on a Monday evening.

The flight and all meals, hotel and transportation in Washington, D.C., for each veteran is 100% free – paid by donations from citizens, companies, corporations and organizations.

A veteran can bring along a family member “escort” for assistance.

Applications for veterans for Western ND Honor Flight and more information are available at westernndhonorflight.org. Those interested in donating can also find information at the website.

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