MARION — Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois is finalizing plans for its second flight, which is to take place Oct. 17.
“We’re on schedule for Oct. 17. We have 30 World War II veterans and 37 Korean veterans slated to go,” said Nancy Brown, vice chairman of Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois.
Guardian training was Sept. 2.
“We had over 80 people show up for guardian training," Brown said. "It was unbelievable."
The organization is looking for someone who might be able to provide small backpacks or string backpacks for the veterans going on the flight. Veterans who attended the first flight were given string backpacks that they could use to hold essential items for the flight.
Veterans will be given a T-shirt and hat to wear on flight two.
“I think we are pretty much on schedule,” Brown said.
The group will do medical and mobility evaluations on all veterans on Flight 2 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois. Brown said a doctor and several nurses will be available to assess existing medical conditions and mobility of the veterans.
“Hopefully, that will allow us to board faster in Marion and get off the plane a little faster when we get back,” Brown said.
A pre-flight celebration will be at 10 a.m. Oct. 15 in Community of Faith Church in Marion. All veterans from the first honor flight are invited to attend and wear their honor flight T-shirts.
“If veterans on upcoming flight have questions, they will be easy to identify,” Brown said.
Some improvements have been planned for the welcome home party on the evening of Oct. 17 to make the event extra special and avoid some of the problems encountered after the first flight. Brown said the atmosphere will be more like a festival, with entertainment and food vendors.
Traffic control will be provided, as well as off-site parking with shuttle busses running between parking and the airport. Parking plans will be announced soon.
"We really want to encourage everyone to come out for the welcoming home party. It will be really great atmosphere with lots of activity,” Brown added.
Marion Veterans of Foreign Wars Post will host a fundraiser for Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois at 6 p.m. Friday. The event will include a quarter auction, vendors and a silent auction. Food will be available for purchase.
“You should be able to get some deals for only a quarter,” Brown said. “It should be a really good time.”
While the second flight is nearly ready to go, Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois is already looking toward its third flight. Brown said the group would like to schedule its third flight in spring 2018.
“We are very, very grateful for the community and for their support,” Brown said.
She thanked those who supported the second flight and is very positive about ability to do a third flight in the spring because of the support.
For more information or to volunteer, visit www.veteranshonorflight.org.