The local community turned out Saturday night to support a veterans’ trip to Washington, D.C.
Serenity Winery hosted the MidMo Strawberry Festival, which benefits the Central Missouri Honor Flight.
Doc Kritzer, with Honor Flight, said the program began honoring World War II veterans shortly after the DC World War II Memorial was erected with a group in Dayton, Ohio. Now, there are organizations across the country that help organize and fund trips for veterans.
These days, he said, the trip mostly includes Vietnam War veterans.
The Central Missouri Honor Flight began in 2006.
“We expected to do two trips, one bus, which had 55 people and it was about half and half veterans and guards,” Kritzer said. “We ended up taking seven. So you can see how the veterans reacted and the community because it necessarily raises those funds.
Guardians who also go on a trip pay for their trip themselves. During the trip, tutors help keep the group together, assist veterans with potential mobility issues, and generally help keep things running smoothly.
Most are assigned to two or three veterans, Kritzer said.
“I have never been around people so committed and dedicated to honoring these people who came,” he said. “It’s so rewarding, which is why we’re all so excited (to do it).”
Kritzer said sponsoring a veteran for the trip costs $300. Over the years, Central Missouri Honor Flights has raised over $3 million through donations and fundraising events like the Strawberry Festival.