National Honor Flight Network: A History

The Honor Flight Network was cofounded by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Air Force captain, and Jeff Miller, a business owner. Both are sons of veterans.

Earl Morse worked in a Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Springfield, Ohio. After the National WWII Memorial was completed in 2004, he realized that many of his patients would not be able to travel to Washington, DC to see it on their own. A pilot himself, Morse offered to fly two veterans on his own. He then pitched the idea to 300 private pilots, asking that they personally escort WWII veterans and pay for the flights themselves. Eleven more pilots volunteered.

After funds were raised and more volunteers recruited, six small planes flew 12 veterans to Washington for the first official Honor Flight. A total of 126 WWII vets were transported that first year.

Inspired by Morse, Jeff Miller, a business owner in Hendersonville, North Carolina, had a similar idea on a larger scale—to charter entire commercial jets! He founded Honor Air, which by the end of 2006, had flown more than 300 WWII senior heroes to their memorials.

In 2007, Morse and Miller met in Washington, DC and merged Honor Flight and Honor Air into what is now known as the Honor Flight Network. By the end of 2017, the network had escorted 200,000 WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans to see their memorials, free of charge. In 2008, the prestigious Presidential Citizens Medal was awarded to Morse and Miller by President George W. Bush. iBi

Learn more about the national Honor Flight Network at honorflight.org.

               

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