MADISON (WKOW) — The Badger Honor Flight took off for a one-of-a-kind flight Monday morning.
Usually, they fly about 90 veterans to Washington D.C. for the day as a way to give them an all expenses paid opportunity to see the monuments erected in their honor. It’s also a chance for the community to come out for their welcome home celebration and greet them on their return.
Monday’s flight will be similar but much more intimate: there will only be two veterans on the flight.
“If we can have a special flight, and take them on a smaller experience, it’s really going to be a great way to make sure they get their honor flight,” said Badger Honor Flight board chairwoman Nicole Jennings.
The organization has partnered with the Dan and Patti Rashke (TASC) Family Foundation for the first flight of this type. The foundation’s chartered plane is helping provide a special opportunity to the veterans with health challenges and get them out to Washington D.C. as soon as possible, Jennings said.
“We are pleased to partner with Badger Honor Flight to ensure that veterans who may not be healthy enough to fly during the next flight season will be able to experience the recognition for their service to our country that they so deserve,” said Patti Rashke.
For veterans of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, time is of the essence. There’s 1,300 people on the wait list for an honor flight, and many are fighting dwindling health and age.
“This fall, every time we prepared for a flight, we’ve had veterans pass away who were on our wait list who are scheduled to go on our flight,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking when we receive the news that yet another veteran on our wait list has passed away.”
Jennings said it means so much to their family to celebrate with their veterans, and they’re hoping they can get more people to come help out.
“We’re always looking for more volunteers, we’re always looking for people to come out and welcome the veterans home,” she said.
They plan to do 6 flights next year and they hope to continue these outside partnerships to run even more additional flights in order to get veterans much quicker.
The public is invited to welcome back the veterans and thank them for their service. The welcome back celebration is not at the airport like usual. It is at VFW 8483 at 5737 County Highway CV #6169 in Madison at 7:00 p.m.