ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – In 2020, both Honor Flight missions were canceled, this year they planned to have three missions but now they have rescheduled for two in September.
“We have canceled those two flights and we are going to do two flights in September,” said Knauf. “So our September flights will be September first and the 29th, so it’s going to be a very busy month for us.”
U.P. Honor Flight takes a lot of planning to put on. Knauf says he is working on getting things rescheduled for September.
“I gotta cancel the contracts with the airline and then we had to draw up new contracts with Sun Country Airlines that we always use they have been doing a fantastic job for us and so we got all that under our belt,” said Knauf. “And then once I had contracts signed with them then I was able to request the busses in D.C. because we do charter four busses to drive us around in D.C. and then I will be working on the police escort, and then all the other stuff that goes along with that all the food for the day, I’ll be ordering all that stuff but the main things are in place now.”
Knauf says they also have to truck a ramp for the airplane from the Houghton County Airport to the Delta County Airport that is big enough for the type of plane they use for the flight. Knauf says with the flights being pushed back some people on the list might not be able to go on the flight.
“It’s depressing at first because I know there are guys scheduled to go on the flight that may not be able to go anymore because their health has deteriorated so they’re no longer able to go and that just makes me sick knowing that they will not get to go with us and I have gotten some phone calls,” Knauf. “The worst call is from a wife saying that he’s passed away take him off the list. I hate those phone calls and so I’ve gotten a few of those and they were scheduled to go on this next flight.”
They will have veterans from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam on the September missions.
“Back when we scheduled the flight for May of 2020, we had two World War II one was one hundred years old and one was 97 years old, I’ve not heard from them to say to cancel so I am hoping that they are able to go with us and I would love to bring them with us,” said Knauf. “So we would have two World War II and then there were nine Korean veterans and the rest were Vietnam.”
Knauf says the community has been supportive of U.P. Honor Flight and people are already hoping to plan some fundraisers this summer.
“The Upper Peninsula is unbelievable in the way that they support us and we so appreciate that we’re able to continue our mission because of the way people are supporting us and I just got home from a meeting some people are getting together here in Escanaba to do a fundraiser for us in March,” said Knauf. “And the calls are coming in, different golf tournaments and different things people want to do this summer for us so I’m hoping these things open up and we are able to do these events.”
Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit organization that’s mission is to take veterans to Washington D.C. to see their memorials from the wars they served in. U.P. Honor Flight has completed 17 missions and has over 400 veterans on their list waiting to travel to Washington D.C.