Mid-Michigan Honor Flight preparing for May 22 trip

Submitted to the Pioneer

BIG RAPIDS — A group of Michigan veterans will report to Big Rapids next week for their opportunity to visit the memorials honoring their service free of charge.

On Tuesday, May 22, Mid-Michigan Honor Flight will take 75 honorees to Washington, D.C., to tour memorials. Honorees are being offered an additional two nights lodging package at Ferris State University at no charge to any seated flyers. Mid-Michigan Honor Flight serves 51 counties in the state and this convenience allows flyers to arrive comfortably, rested and stress-free in anticipation of the trip.

“Our board of directors looks forward to meeting each and every honoree, and this package also allows veterans from the same war era to connect and engage in conversation,” said Tricia Donegan, hub director. “Ferris State rolls out the red carpet for our honorees and guardians and really gives them the VIP treatment. It is very special.”

This year for the first time the hub has a major sponsor to cover the cost of the Ferris package. Leprino Foods, in Remus, has committed their staff and employees as well as funding for the spring flight.

“We knew this flight was going to cost more because we chartered a larger plane so we had concerns about our budget. Dave Merriam, plant manager, came to our rescue in a big way. We are so grateful to the plant, its employees and their foundation,” Donegan said. “It really shows our community how vested local businesses are in veterans. We are so proud to be partnering with them.”

The May 22 flight will depart at 9 a.m. from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. American Airlines Charter Flight No. 9479 will return at 8:45 p.m.

“Guests are welcome to come and show our heroes some love by greeting them at the airport on our return. It is the best part of the entire day,” said Diane Diehm, Mid-Michigan Honor Flight vice president.

Mid-Michigan Honor Flight’s mission is focused on giving veterans the opportunity to see the memorials honoring their service in Washington D.C., at no cost to them. World War II, Korean and Vietnam veterans are invited to apply and be added to the waiting list of deserving Michigan veterans who wish to take part. Mid-Michigan Honor Flight is an official hub of the national organization, Honor Flight Network (honorflight.org). There are 136 hubs throughout the United States and Michigan has three.

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