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Oklahoma Honor Flights recognizes veterans for their service

May 17, 2010, marked the inaugural trip of the Oklahoma Honor Flights chapter to Washington, D.C. The Oct. 12 trip was the third of 2011 and the fifth flight overall for Oklahoma Honor Flights, a nonprofit organization created solely to honor Oklahoma's veterans for their sacrifices.
by Bryan Painter Published: October 16, 2011

As World War II veterans have aged, the emphasis is placed on ensuring they have an opportunity to go to Washington to visit their memorial.

The inaugural Honor Flight took place in May 2005.

A half-dozen small planes flew out of Springfield, Ohio, taking 12 World War II veterans on a visit to the memorial, according to the national organization's website.

In August 2005, an ever-increasing waiting list of veterans led to a transition to commercial airline carriers with the goal of accommodating as many veterans as possible. Partnering with HonorAir in Hendersonville, N.C., they formed the “Honor Flight Network.”

On Sept. 24, 2007, HonorAir out of Hendersonville, N.C., and Henderson County, N.C., were the first city and the first county in the nation to fly all of their World War II veterans to Washington.

In 2009, state Rep. Gary W. Banz, R-Midwest City, the son and nephew of five World War II brothers, worked to help start Oklahoma Honor Flights hub.

Before that, Oklahoma veterans had to travel with hubs of other states.

Slightly more than a week before Veterans Day 2009, then-Gov. Brad Henry threw his support behind a privately funded effort to help World War II service members and other veterans get to Washington to visit national monuments and memorials dedicated to their service.

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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