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QUITE AN HONOR: Next Honor Flight set for Oct. 16

  • Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois chairman Bryan Questelle, in shirt and tie, addressed those gathered at the Marion Walmart store Wednesday to discuss plans for the next flight scheduled set for October.

    Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois chairman Bryan Questelle, in shirt and tie, addressed those gathered at the Marion Walmart store Wednesday to discuss plans for the next flight scheduled set for October.
    Ceasar Maragni photo

  • On hand lending their support for the next Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois Wednesday were left to right: Albert Saliba, Herrin, Joe Baxter, Marion, Jack Murray, Marion and Virgil Lukens, Herrin. The four men were part of previous honor flights.

    On hand lending their support for the next Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois Wednesday were left to right: Albert Saliba, Herrin, Joe Baxter, Marion, Jack Murray, Marion and Virgil Lukens, Herrin. The four men were part of previous honor flights.
    Ceasar Maragni photo

 
By Ceasar Maragni
Contributing Photojournalist
Posted on 9/20/2018, 7:37 PM

MARION -- They're called honor flights, and rightfully so. A total of 69 Southern Illinois veterans are scheduled to board an airplane early on the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Veterans Airport in Marion for our nation's capital in Washington. It marks the fourth such trip. It should be a day to remember for all involved.

In preparation for the trip, planners held a press event at Marion Walmart Wednesday evening to share more about the upcoming salute to our area heroes.

The nonprofit organization exists to honor American veterans for all their sacrifices.

They transport these heroes to Washington to visit and reflect at their memorials.

Top priority is given to the senior veterans -- World War II survivors, Korean War survivors, and Vietnam War survivors -- along with those veterans who may be terminally ill.

Since their first flight, the popularity of the event has grown to the point that it takes dozens of volunteers to make it happen and the people of Southern Illinois have responded mightily.

Chairman Bryan Questelle of Harrisburg explained.

"For the 69 veterans taking this next flight, we're going to make it an experience from the time they step on airport property early that morning until they return to their families and friends here (later that night)."

Ask Questelle and he'll be among the first to tell you that the flights wouldn't be possible without the corporate sponsorships and the dozens of volunteers who join forces to pull it off.

Among them is the group of 11 Walmart stores located throughout the region.

Jamie Tylka of Marion is market manager for those 11 stores and she told the group, "Our company has always placed a high priority on honoring out veterans. It's part of our corporate culture, and so when we found out that there were Honor Flights in our region, all of my store managers got on board to help out. We're honored to donate over $40,000 to this next flight's expenses and also proud of the 70 employees of our stores who will volunteer their time that day to help out."

One of those on hand at Wednesday's press event was 86-year-old Navy veteran, Albert Saliba of Herrin.

"I was on the first Honor Flight here in Southern Illinois, and I'll never forget it," he said. "I think the Korean War Memorial was the highlight of the trip for me."

Joe Baxter of Marion, 85 and an Army veteran who served his country in uniform from 1951 to '53, nodded in agreement.

"I agree with Albert that the Korean War Memorial was the highlight for me, too. And, I can't say enough about the many volunteers who helped make it all possible for us."