Several Covenant Health leaders and representatives were among the participants this week when HonorAir Knoxville took 129 East Tennessee veterans on its most recent flight to Washington, D.C. The flight represented a milestone of successfully flying over 1,000 East Tennessee World War II and Korean War veterans to see the memorials built to honor their sacrifices.
HonorAir Knoxville is a program established and presented by Prestige Cleaners to honor veterans. Covenant Health has been a major supporter of each of the nine flights taken to date.
On April 13, after walking through an Honor Guard from the Knoxville Military Entrance Processing Station, the veterans received a send-off at McGhee Tyson Airport. They were welcomed home by hundreds of friends, family and HonorAir supporters. As they walked through red, white and blue balloon arches, veterans were greeted by American flags waving and patriotic music by the Air National Guard Band of the Smoky Mountains.
The one-day, all-expense paid trip includes tours of the World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Marine and Air Force Memorials. In addition, the group saw the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and drove past the Navy Memorial. Forty-one volunteer escorts assisted the veterans.
According to Eddie Mannis of Prestige Cleaners, “It is an honor for my company to participate in this program. These veterans made a great sacrifice for their country and we are proud to honor this group of special people.”
Sixteen million Americans served in World War II. Approximately 1.7 million WWII veterans are still alive, but about 1500-1700 die each day. The Korean War, often referred to as the “forgotten war,” was a conflict in which more than 36,000 Americans lost their lives. Many veterans of these two wars have never seen the World War II and Korean War Memorials, so one of HonorAir Knoxville’s goals is to take as many area veterans as possible on these special flights.
Two more HonorAir Knoxville flights are tentatively planned for August and October, depending on the level of funding the program receives from the community. To learn more about HonorAir, visit the program’s website at www.honorairknoxville.com