World War II veterans will be given the chance to fly to Washington, D.C. and visit World War II memorials for free in September.
The Flight of Honor, sponsored by Rotary International and private donors, will lift off September 17, and so far 15 veterans from our area and surrounding areas will be on the flight. Several non-veterans will fly along to serve as guardians.
Myra Deane is among those who have signed up to serve as guardians.
“It’s not for me,” she explained. “It’s for my 92-year-old friend, Margaret L. Covington; she goes by Lou. She was a Commander in the Navy. She started out in the Navy Nurse Corps and moved right up through the ranks.”
Women are not often highlighted among the victorious and heroic Americans of World War II. Covington, according to Deane, started several hospitals in America and a few in other countries as well. During the war, she was a flight nurse.
“She’s quite an interesting lady,” said Deane. “She’s healthy. I hope the trip will be special to her. When I asked her if she would go, she said, ‘I swore I’d never fly again,’ but she’s planning to go.”
In the Richmond County chapter of Flight of Honor, retired Col. Larry Rogers is in charge of organizing the veterans and signing them up. He signs up guardians and sets up meetings to let everyone attending know what to expect. He also collects donations to continue the Flight of Honor, since the program isn’t government funded. Both he and his wife Glenda are passionate about World War II veterans, and veterans in general.
Glenda and Larry Rogers are in Florida, where Glenda owns a nursery. One of her long-time employees became interested in the Flight of Honor.
Ramon Silva, 25, is patriotic and appreciative of veterans. He came to America from Mexico with his parents at age 3 as an alien resident and became a citizen at age 18.
“This is home. This is where I grew up,” said Silva. “I’m trying to say thank you to veterans.I know it’s because of their sacrifice that we’re here today. The way I look at it, if it weren’t for the veterans, we’d all be speaking German right now.”
So far, the 17 veterans on the preliminary list are from Rockingham, Hamlet, Ellerbe, Laurinburg, Lilesville, Peachland, Southern Pines and Wadesboro.
“My goal is a minimum of 20, but would like to take more if I can find them,” said Rogers. “My goal is also to raise over $10,000 for these Veterans since it is the last flight by the Gastonia Rotary.”
If you are or know a World War II veteran that wishes to go on the Flight of Honor, all expenses paid, please contact Larry Rogers at (910) 331-7435. Rogers can also take donations, which are the only way the Flights of Honor can continue.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ex. 43, or by e-mail at email@example.com.