DAR makes local Honor Flight possible

By Bob McDonnell
The Surveyor

Sonya Ortega joined her grandfather Robert Ortega while on his Honor Flight. They visited the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.
Courtesy photo

On May 7, 2017, 123 military veterans boarded an airplane at Denver International Airport as part of the Honor Flight Network program. Washington, D. C. was their destination.
They were part of Honor Flight Northern Colorado. The Northern Colorado group was founded in 2008. This was the 18th twice-yearly flight originating from Northern Colorado. The Honor Flight Network has hubs in most states.
The former military members made an overnight trip in recognition of their service to our country. According to www.honorflight.org, the nonprofit was “created to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices by transporting our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit their memorials.”
The Honor Flight program started by taking World War II veterans on the trip. Now that most of those men and women have taken part, Honor Flight is recognizing veterans from other wars. The journey is provided at no cost to the veteran.
Obviously, someone has to cover the expense of travel, lodging and meals for these men and women. Since Honor Flight Networks is a nonprofit, they accept donations. For this most recent trip, the Longs Peak chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) stepped up to provide funding.
Maggie Jones, a Berthoud resident, the DAR state librarian and member of the Longs Peak DAR Chapter in Longmont, said their organization raised money for this last flight at their state convention in April of this year. Jones says the organization held a dinner with door prizes donated by local businesses. Attendees gave money for these items. According to Jones, there was also a bucket available at the two-day event where people could place money to finance the Honor Flight.
Her DAR group raise $8,400 in this effort. The Piney Creek DAR chapter added another $3,800. Jones believes this combined contribution covered the cost of all local veterans taking their trip to our nation’s capital.
The Longs Peak DAR also had representatives at the May sendoff for the veterans in Loveland. Other DAR members gathered at all the Interstate 25 overpasses, waving American flags as the convoy of busses traveled from Loveland to the airport.
Jones added this is just a small part of what DAR does. In addition to veterans, they focus on historic preservation and education.
Berthoud resident Robert Ortega was one of the veterans who benefited from the DAR efforts. Ortega served in the Navy from 1961 to 1965. He spent time on a destroyer near Vietnam in 1964 and 1965. “We lit up the beach for the Marines,” he said.
Ortega made the trip at the urging of his granddaughter, Sonya Ortega. Although he says there was a three-year waiting list, his granddaughter kept urging him to go. She joined him for his two days of tours and recognition.
This was the Navy vet’s first trip to Washington, D.C. “Amazing” is how he described his experience.
Ortega expressed his gratitude to those who made the once-in-a-lifetime trip possible. He noted his wife donates to the Honor Flight organization through her paycheck too.
“It was worth the wait,” commented Ortega on his Honor Flight experience.

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