Midwest Honor Flight Nears Landmark Mission

This spring, Midwest Honor Flight is taking more than 255 veterans from Northwest Iowa, South Dakota, Northeast Nebraska, and Southwest Minnesota to Washington DC to visit the armed forces memorials there.  Starting in 2017, Midwest Honor Flight, headquartered in Sioux Center, IA, has flown more than 1,600 veterans to DC.  Board President and CEO Aaron Van Beek says a lot has changed since that first flight seven years ago.

It now costs more than $130,000 to charter a flight, and with six flights scheduled for this year alone, it’s a big bill.  However, Van Beek says they’ve got it covered.

Five of the six flights in 2024 are sponsored; sponsors provide most of the cost for a flight and receive naming rights for that mission.  Van Beek says the first flight this fall, however, Mission 21, is reserved for the organization and no naming rights will be given to that flight.

Van Beek says most milestones are celebrated at ten, 25, or 50.  He chose 21 as a milestone because of the military significance.

He says that while the flight is special, the mission remains the same.

This year’s first flight was completed May 7; the next flight is Tuesday, May 21, June 4 is the final spring flight, Mission 20, and will carry two WW2 veterans.  Van Beek says all veterans from WW2, Korea, and Vietnam are welcome to apply, but WW2 veterans and veterans with terminal medical diagnoses receive top priority for any flight.  He says the waiting list never seems to go below 750, but he doesn’t want that to discourage veterans from applying.  Not only does it get a veteran on the list, but Van Beek says it helps with fundraising and obtaining flight sponsors.

The DC tour includes stops at Arlington National Cemetery to see the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, Iwo Jima and Air Force Memorials, the Navy Memorial, the WW2, Korean War, and Vietnam War Memorials complete the tour.