More than 80 World War II veterans will visit memorials dedicated in their honor during a trip to Washington, D.C., on Saturday, May 5, as part of the fifth Northwest Arkansas Honor Flight.
Thanks to major donations from Tyson Foods Inc. and the Walmart Foundation, as well as others, a commercial jet has been chartered to fly the veterans free of charge from Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport to Washington, D.C., and back. The group, which will include veterans as old as 94, will see the World War II Memorial as well as other military memorials during their day in the nation’s capital.
Flight organizers encourage the public to be at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport terminal at 7:30 p.m., Saturday evening, to be part of a special return reception for the veterans.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to show your support of these veterans from the ‘Greatest Generation,’ as well as enjoy patriotic music and flag waving,” said Melissa Lee, a Tyson Foods attorney who is chair of the company’s Veterans Business Resource Group (VBRG), which will be represented at the reception. Others expected to attend include ROTC cadets from the Razorback Brigade, Civil Air Patrol cadets from the 115th Composite Squadron, the Patriot Guard and some members of the Rogers Heritage High School Band.
A group of eight Har-Ber High School students is involved in the trip. Some of the students will shoot video of the veterans’ departure from the airport; two will accompany the veterans on the flight and during their stay in Washington, D.C.; and others will meet the veterans in Washington, D.C., and shoot video of their arrival and escort through the nation’s capital as well as at the memorials.
Each veteran on the trip will receive a video recording and photos of the experience from the students. In addition, the Har-Ber students will use photos from the trip to create a visual tour for the World War II Memorial website, including panoramic displays of the memorial’s notable points.
“This is too amazing not to save for the future,” said Debra Lamb, the teacher heading up the project at the Springdale school. “The students will be able to learn more about the tremendous service these dedicated men and women provided our country during World War II, plus they’ll gain experience documenting this wonderful trip on video.”
Tyson and the Walmart Foundation have each donated $25,000, which will cover a majority of the $65,000 expense for the trip. Donations are being accepted to help cover the cost of another flight the organization plans to schedule in October 2012.
The Honor Flight Network is a national non-profit organization that started seven years ago in Ohio, with six small planes taking a dozen World War II veterans to see their memorial. Tyson and Walmart have been the primary sponsors of all of the Northwest Arkansas Honor Flights, beginning with the first trip in October 2009.