Honor Flight of Savannah began in 2008. Founder Larry P. Spears, LT, USN (Ret) and his wife Marian, Lead Guardian, along with the following local area veterans, Tim Bulick, Luis Carreras, and Paul Green begin planning a program designed to take all World War II Veterans in southeast Georgia to Washington, D.C. to see the memorial dedicated to their service.
In early of 2009, they expanded to include the lowcountry area of South Carolina and invited members of that community to join the Board of Directors. Joining and representing the Beaufort, SC area were, Owen Hand, Fletcher Maffett, and George Grove.
Since that time we have added Carol Megathlin, media and legislative liaison, Ed Wexler, fund raising Chairman, Linda Gray, Secretary, and Eric Darling, webmaster to the board.
With the help of local veteran groups, as well as area businesses, civic and fraternal organizations, and other like-minded groups, our inaugural flight took place October 24, 2009.
Representing Georgia were Jerome Bath, Bill Boney, and E.W.Daniel. Ray Kearns, Lawrence Laughlin and James Shanklin comprised the veterans from South Carolina.
The six veterans and their well-wishing family members and friends met their Guardians and other support personnel at the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport at 4:15 AM on the morning of their departure. In addition, they were greeted by active duty personnel from local military installations, the volunteers from the USO, who work at the airport, media, and many more well-wishers.
At 5:30 AM their flight left for Charlotte, connecting to Baltimore-Washington International Airport for a day filled with events and activities to both recognize and honor them for their selfless service to our country.
Upon arrival in Baltimore, they were greeted by military personnel, Honor Flight volunteers, and many well-wishers. Following this reception, they boarded a charter bus to begin a tour of a lifetime throughout the many memorials and sights of Washington, DC.
At each and every stop, from Charlotte, to Baltimore, and at each memorial stop they were greeted, applauded, saluted, and honored by many grateful Americans, both in and out of uniform.
The stops and sights they enjoyed during the day included, the WWII Memorial, followed by lunch, then off to Arlington National Cemetery, for the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Follow on stops included the Iwo-Jima, Air Force, and Navy Museum and Memorials, the Korean War and Vietnam Veteran Memorials, as well as the newest memorial, the Women in Military service for America Memorial.
Upon completion of the tours, and after a refreshing supper, we boarded our flight home. Arriving back in Savannah just before midnight after a long but exhilarating day, the travelers were again greeted by family, friends, active duty military personnel, members of local and national legislative bodies, and many other well-wishers.
Memories for a lifetime are the end product for the Veterans and a great source of community pride for those who assisted.