SPRINGFIELD — Honor Flight Savannah has an offer that is difficult to refuse. The 501(c)(3) organization is searching for World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans to take to Washington, D.C., for a free weekend of visiting war memorials and special treatment.
Springfield resident Jerry Maenneche is a staunch Honor Flight Savannah advocate. He urges all veterans to register up for a trip.
“Most of the people I talk to have never heard of it,” Maenneche said. “When I explain it to them, I can read their face. They are thinking that there has to be a catch somewhere.
“They keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
Interested veterans can learn details about an Honor Flight Savannah trip by visiting the Mars Theatre during Saturday’s Springfield Fall Festival. Honor Flight Savannah volunteers will be on hand to offer details starting at noon.
“(The Honor Flight veterans) were all treated as heroes,” Springfield’s Herb Jones said while describing his May trip. He was a Navy corpsman during the Korean War.
Honor flight tours include the World War II Memorial, American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, United States Navy Museum and Memorial, United States Air Force Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, Women in Military Service to America Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, plus the Korean and Vietnam War memorials.
“There was no wasted time in it,” said Springfield’s Irwin Malphrus, a Vietnam War veteran who served on the USS New Jersey and joined Jones on the May trip. “We were doing something as we went from one memorial to the other all the way through the day.”
Springfield’s Johnny Boston and Malphrus learned about Honor Flight while reading the Effingham Herald. They also attended an information session about it last year at the Mars Theatre.
“It was probably a little better than I expected it to be,” Boston said.
Boston got a surprise during the May trip. He encountered a former member of the 25th Infantry who fought at Vietnam’s Mount Nui Ba Den at the same time he did. At 966 meters, it is the highest peak in south Vietnam.
“(After applying to go on an Honor Flight trip) I waited about eight months,” Boston said. “Some of my cohorts who have been before waited as much as two years because they take the World War II vets first because there aren’t many of them left. More of them are disabled than the (veterans) from Korea and Vietnam.”
Each Honor Flight Savannah participant is accompanied by a guardian. A doctor is also with the group at all times.
Boston, Jones and the Malphrus actively encourage veterans to sign up for an Honor Flight trip.
“It’s a good thing,” Boston said. “I think every veteran should go.”
“In my opinion, you would be foolish to turn this opportunity down,” Malphrus said.
To learn more about Savannah Honor Flight and/or its next trip, visit www.honorflightsavannah.org or call Jerry Maennche at (912) 663-0322.