The Honor Flight network was co-founded by Jeff Miller, a small business owner from Hendersonville, North Carolina, and Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Air Force captain. Morse worked in a Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Springfield, Ohio. In his work, Morse would ask WW II vets if they had gotten the chance to see the newly built WWII Memorial in Washington D.C. (It was built in 2004, nearly 60 years after the war ended). Many said yes, but he says, “I would see my World War II veterans some three, six months later and I’d ask them if they’d gone to see it. Three hundred of them, and not one of them had been to it. Reality set in. They were never going.”
Earl Morse, in the red shirt and Jeff Miller, in the blue shirt are the co-founders of Honor Flight. (Photo courtesy: Stephen A. Brown, well known Honor Flight photographer.)
Morse offered to fly two of the veterans to Washington himself. Eventually, he would ask more local private pilots to do the same and soon the Honor Flight Network was formed, with private pilots flying and escorting the veterans around the memorial.At the end of 2005, the program had transported 137 veterans to the memorial. In late 2005, Jeff Miller, a dry cleaning company owner in Hendersonville, North Carolina, inspired by Morse’s vision, had a similar idea but on a larger scale. He wanted to use commercial airlines to bring even more veterans to the Washington.On 23 and 24 Sep and 4 Nov 2006, His Honor Air program flew more than 300 WWII veterans from the Asheville airport to Washington, free of charge. “CBS Sunday Morning” aired a moving feature about the HonorAir effort in September 2006. It was that news piece that inspired WDAY’s Tracy Briggs to try and bring the Honor Flights to North Dakota and Minnesota. Today’s WDAY Honor Flight is an approved hub of the Honor Flight Network.
For more information about the national Honor Flight organization go to: https://www.honorflight.org