SPRINGDALE, Ark. – On Saturday, May 5, more than 80 World War II veterans will visit memorials dedicated in their honor during a trip to Washington, DC, as part of the fifth Northwest Arkansas Honor Flight. This trip is being made possible thanks to major donations from Tyson Foods Inc. and the Walmart Foundation, plus others.
A chartered commercial jet will fly the veterans gratis from Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport to Washington, DC, and back again. This elite group, that will include veterans as old as 94, will see the World War II Memorial as well as other military memorials during their day in Washington.
Program organizers are encouraging the public to be at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport terminal at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, to participate in 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.
Eight Har-Ber High School students will be involved in the trip. Some will shoot video of the veterans’ departure from the airport; two will accompany the veterans on the flight and during their stay in Washington; and others will meet the veterans in Washington and shoot video of their arrival and escort through the nation’s capital, as well as at the memorials.
Each participating veteran will be given a video recording and photos of the experience from the students. The students will also 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.
Tyson and the Walmart Foundation have each donated $25,000, which will cover a most 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.
Anyone wanting to donate; is a World War II veteran who wants to go on a future trip; or wants to volunteer to help with a future flight, should call, e-mail or send a letter to:
Bill McKenzie, Tyson Aviation
10475 Tyson Place
Bentonville, AR 72712
Honor Flight Network is a national, non-profit organization that started seven years ago in Ohio with six small planes taking 12 World War II veterans to see their memorial. Beginning with the first trip in October 2009, Tyson and Walmart have been the primary sponsors of all of the Northwest Arkansas Honor Flights.