ST. GEORGE – More than a dozen Southern Utah military veterans – the bulk of them having served during World War II – will depart from St. George early Thursday morning to be a part of Utah Honor Flight, a nonprofit organization that takes veterans to Washington D.C. to see their memorials.
The three-day trip includes a trip to the National Mall, where the veterans will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the National World War II Memorial, followed by stops at the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. There will also be excursions to visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and Fort McHenry.
“Utah Honor Flight would like to thank all the men and women who have served. These flights are how, in a small way, we can show our gratitude,” Utah Honor Flight Chairman Mike Turner, said. “The welcome home celebration is a great way for our community to come out and show appreciation to these veterans.”
World War II was a global calamity, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 60 million worldwide, including approximately 400,000 Americans. Sent to faraway lands, some of which the young men had never heard of, these servicemen fought on land, air, sea and underwater.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, fewer than 700,000 of the 16 million who served during WWII are still alive. The youngest of the WWII veterans are in their late 80s and early 90s.
“When the very future of our republic hung in the balance, men from around the country – men like these veterans we will be accompanying – answered the call,” Turner said. “We need to honor them while we still can.”
Since 2013, Utah Honor Flight has taken more than 850 veterans to Washington D.C. This will be the sixth trip departing from Southern Utah.
Welcome home reception
Saturday the veterans return to Utah for a welcome home ceremony at approximately 9 p.m. at the Dixie Center St. George, 1835 Convention Center Drive, St. George. The public is invited to celebrate these veterans with patriotic signs and flags as they return from their trip.
The Patriot Guard Riders of Southern Utah, part of a national organization of veterans which is over 260,000 strong, will escort the bus carrying the Honor Flight participants from Las Vegas to St. George. The guard riders will take the missing man formation at the Black Rock Road Exit of Interstate 15 and will lead the bus to the Dixie Center where they will stand as a welcome party at the reception.
- What: Utah Honor Flight Welcome Home Reception
- When: Saturday, May 28, 9 p.m.
- Where: Dixie Center St. George, 1835 Convention Center Drive, St. George