SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After a pause because of the pandemic, Midwest Honor Flight is set to resume flights this September. On Sunday, a ride on the ground is helping fly veterans to our nation’s capital.
“We really didn’t know how that would turn out, but the Sioux Falls community and the surrounding communities here in the Midwest really came through today,” president and director of Midwest Honor Flight Aaron Van Beek said. “Well over 100 bikes and vehicles that registered today and came out and ultimately honored our veterans, and that’s what we do on flights, and that’s what we did here today.”
The event started at the South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance, with bikers then riding by the VA Hospital and out to the new South Dakota Veterans Cemetery.
All the proceeds from today’s event go toward sending veterans to Washington D.C.
“We can’t explain how excited we are to have been able to be told that we’re going to be back in the air this year. Our veterans need to fly. They need that closure, so we’re very very excited,” Gold Star mother Elaine Leusink said.
“They need to be able to go out there, and for some, it’s probably a closure or welcome home that they never, especially the Vietnam veterans never got when they came back. Get to be able to see their buddies out on the wall. I know a lot of emotions are run really high that day,” Vietnam veteran Kevin Muilenburg said.
Sunday’s event also had an announcement.
“Midwest Honor Flight is going to be partnering up with Wreaths Across America, which is a national non-profit organization that places a Christmas wreath on every veterans’ grave at each participating location,” Van Beek said.
Van Beek said the event raised enough money to send eight veterans on a flight this fall.
“Our veterans are getting that healing, that honor and that closure by seeing their memorials and that’s what we’re all about,” Van Beek said.
The organization will announce dates for two flights on Monday.