In only a few days, nine Polk County military veterans will fly to Washington, D.C., to see their respective war memorials.
Supported by the Honor Flight of the Ozarks at no cost of their own, Polk County veterans will be among a total of 80 veterans who will visit the World War II memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam War memorial, the Korean War memorial and more on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Each veteran is accompanied by a guardian.
Along with medical staff, media personnel, the trip leader and flight director, the total trip tallies in at around 180 people, according to Chris McQuay, a member of the Honor Flight of the Ozarks’ board of directors.
The trip includes World War II, Korean War and Vietnam veterans, McQuay said.
“Ten percent of the flight is from Bolivar,” McQuay said.
The Polk County veterans attending the Honor Flight next week include Steven Tygart, U.S. Air Force; Don Jump, U.S. Navy; Pat Overmyer, U.S. Air Force; Michael Stanek, U.S. Army; Charles Stanek, U.S. Army; Larry Farris, U.S. Army; Wilby Voris, U.S. Army; Georgia Payne, PoW; David Payne, U.S. Navy.
Although most of the veterans on the trip have not met each other before, McQuay said they will become “80 best friends for a day.”
From the Honor Flights he’s witnessed previously, he said the veterans become excited in D.C., adding it’s like “a bunch of school kids on Mountain Dew.”
A sendoff for Butterfield Residential Care Center residents Payne and Farris will be at 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 21, at the facility.
When the veterans return to the Springfield-Branson Airport at around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22, they will be met by a welcome-home ceremony upon departing the plane and greeted by crowds of family, friends, EMTs, firefighters, policemen and more.
“Our goal is to make them cry,” McQuay said.