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Honor Flight veterans leave for Washington with law enforcement escort, salutes from Effingham residents
Rincon City employees salute vets
Rincon City Hall employees came out to support the Honor Flight group traveling south on Hwy 21 on their way to Washington, DC, May 17. Pictured from left are: Kaylyn Harris, Tiffany Norton, and Robyn Newman. (Photo by Nichole Buchanan/Effingham Herald.)

By Barbara Augsdorfer, Editor for the Effingham Herald


“They may not know each other at the beginning of the trip, but by the time we return, they are all good friends,” Jerry Maennche of Honor Flight Savannah says of the groups of veterans he takes on the Honor Flight trips each year.

That sentiment is echoed by the veterans themselves.

“Military people have a bond that civilians don’t seem to understand,” said James “Buddy” Odom, Jr, of Rincon. “We may pick on each other (in fun), but no one picks on us.”

The motor coach of veterans, their guardians, and medical staff left from the National Guard Amory parking lot in Springfield, May 17. The group arrived in Washington Friday evening. Saturday was packed with tours of all the war memorials – for this group, stops at the Korean War Memorial and Vietnam War Memorial are especially important. The group returns to Effingham County Sunday night.

Odom was on the Honor Flight waiting list for a year, and this is his first trip to the nation’s capital.

“It’s still an honor to go,” Odom said.

“A Navy buddy of mine went on one of these trips. He was on the waiting list for three years,” said John Kent, 77, of Guyton. Kent served in both the US Navy and Army for a total of 12 years; and is retired from the Naval Reserve.

“I’m really excited to go,” Kent said.

Noting the support from the public, law enforcement, veteran’s groups, and businesses such as Chicken Salad Chick, which provided boxed lunches for the daylong trip, Maennche said, “The support from Effingham County has been over the top.”

In addition to a law enforcement escort from Effingham County Sheriff, Springfield Police and Rincon Police departments, the motorcoach was accompanied by the Patriot Guard Riders of Georgia, who escorted the motorcoach 15 miles down Hwy 21 to I-95, where they gave the veterans a final salute before the motorcoach headed north.