BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Vietnam Veteran Lee Eurns is waiting for his turn to go on an Honor Flight. The trips to D.C. are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for local veterans.
“I think it’s important. I think it’s a reward that we all need,” Eurns said.
They’re escorted with applause and gratitude from Buffalo Niagara Airport to Washington D.C., where the day’s program brings them to the nation’s war memorials, a special dinner, and a flight home that lands with patriotic fanfare.
But the last one took off 18 months ago, with Honor Flights currently grounded due to the pandemic.
“You know, the veterans are waiting. Time is running out for some of these men and women. So as soon as it’s safe, we’re gonna go,” said Tom Petrie, president of the Buffalo Niagara Honor Flight.
Flights won’t resume until it’s safe. So until then, volunteers are fundraising so they’re ready. Sunday, a chicken barbeque meant a couple of dollars per purchase go toward the honor flights. It’s one of several fundraisers so far this year.
“As soon as it’s safe, you know, we’re gonna go. But until we get the clearance, we can’t do anything, other than what we’re doing today: fundraisers like this,” Petrie said.
He is meeting with the national organization in June and hoping for good news then.
Two trips have already been canceled.
“You and I wouldn’t be talking today and be living in a free country if it wasn’t for the sacrifices these men and women have made for us.”
Erica Brecher is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.