Stars and Stripes Honor Flight was started by Joe Dean and a merry band of volunteers, after Dean had seen a brief national news segment (See National Honor Flight Story below). Joe recalls thinking, “someone should do this in Wisconsin.” The next day Dean, son of a WWII Hero (David Dean, US Navy), woke up with one overwhelming thought: “Oh man, I should do this in Wisconsin!”
Within days, the SSHF wheels were in motion. Recruiting the busiest people he knew (they have no time for the petty stuff) Dean asked each potential board member three questions: Why not here? Why not us? Why not now?! The SSHF Board of Directors became reality and the board booked it's first flight at their second meeting - with a grand total of $250.00 in the bank! The SSHF story was told one person, one small group at a time and grew from tiny fund-raisers to the partnership with WTMJ and Charlie Sykes. To date, SSHF has flown over 1000 veterans via the successful launch of "Operation Resolve" wherein 747's were chartered allowing SSHF to fly up to 300 veterans at a time. Our community has been PHENOMENAL in its support. We are forever grateful.
The Honor Flight Network program was conceived by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Air Force Captain. Earl was working at a VA clinic in Ohio when then the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C was finally completed and dedicated in May of 2004. Earl repeatedly asked his veteran patients if they would ever travel out to visit THEIR memorial. But for most of these senior heroes in their 80's, it simply wasn't financially or physically possible for them to make the journey on their own.
That's when Earl decided to do something to help. In addition to being a physician assistant, Earl was also a private pilot and a member of one of our nation's largest and best aero clubs located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. In December of 2004, Earl asked one of his World War II veteran patients if it would be all right if Earl personally flew him out to D.C., free of charge, to visit his memorial. Mr. Loy broke down and cried. He told Earl that at his age he would probably never get to see his memorial otherwise, and graciously accepted the offer.
Earl posed the same question to a second World War II veteran a week later. He too cried and enthusiastically accepted the trip. It didn't take long for Earl to realize that there were many veterans who would have the same reaction. So he started asking for help from other pilots to make these dreams a reality. There were two major stipulations to his request. The first was that the veterans pay nothing. The entire aircraft rental ($600 to $1200 for the day) would have to be paid solely by the pilots. The second was that the pilots personally escort the veterans around D.C. for the entire day. Eleven pilots who had never met his patients stepped up to volunteer. And Honor Flight was born.
In May of 2005, six small planes flew 12 very happy veterans out to the World War II Memorial. The responses from both the veterans and the pilots were overwhelming. By the end of the first year, Honor Flight had transported 137 World War II veterans to their memorial.
IBM, Milwaukee WI
“Honor. Legacy. Gratitude. Respectful volunteers. This is who we are.”
Manager of Human Resources at TJ Hale.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to honor and thank our WWII veterans in a way that is meaningful and memorable to them - I do this In memory of my father, a WWII veteran, and to thank my brothers who served in Viet Nam.”
Attorney/Shareholder HUIRAS, FARRELL & ANTOINE, S.C. , Port Washington, WI
“It is a great privilege to have served as President of such an incredibly talented and dedicated Organization that is fully committed to honoring our WWII Veterans. My personal involvement is a tribute to and in memory of my grandfather, Louis G. Quader, who served as a flight instructor in the Army Air Forces.”
Physical Therapist Port Washington Saukville School District
“My father served in the Navy on the USS Macon; I participate on the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight Board of Directors in his memory. What an honor and privilege it is to serve those who have given so much to protect and defend our nation and the freedom we all enjoy today.”
HCPro Sales Rep./President of Grafton American Legion Auxiliary
“I have a passion for honoring our veterans. My work is in tribute to my late father Robert Akright, who was a WWII veteran and charter member of the building of the WWII Memorial in Washington DC.”
Certified Public Accountant, Krause & Associates, SC
“It is an honor to say thank you to our veterans who gave so much and asked for so little.”
Undergraduate Records Coordinator, College of Health Sciences, Marquette University
“My personal involvement is a tribute to a neighbor, Bob Kressin, who flew on the second flight with SSHF - he proudly wore his jacket 24/7 afterward! I could only imagine that my late father, Lawrence Burja, a Korean War Veteran, would be right here volunteering with me!”
Baranek & Stanke, Court Reporters
“As an original founding member of Stars & Stripes Honor Flight in 2008, my passion and resolve remains just as high today to get our WWII heroes to see the Memorial that stands in their honor.”
Executive Director, Wisconsin School Safety Coordinators Association
“I was a part of a great team of veterans working for our citizens, and now I am a member of a great team of citizens working for our veterans.”
SSHF Director of Logistics, Engineer at ABB Inc.
“I've been with Stars and Stripes Honor Flight since the beginning because where else can one experience and thank those who have given us so much.”
Dodge County Veterans Service Officer
“I became a Marine in 1974 and it is now part of my DNA. I cannot rest until I see every World War II veteran from southeastern Wisconsin take their richly deserved Honor Flight.”
Columbia St. Mary's, Occupational, Aerospace and Travel Medicine
“I serve as a board member of SSHF because of the sacrifice, gratitude and devotion to American ideals that the veterans and their family members epitomize and that the volunteers, contributors and the public so warmly celebrate.”
“I got involved because I was seeing my patients that were WW II vets getting older and dying and it was a chance to give something back to them before they were gone.”
Mom/Professional Volunteer/Freelance Video Host
“It is never too late to say Thank You. I do this in honor of my grandfather who served in Europe, but never saw his memorial.”
We Energies, Project Supervisor
“For some reason America didn't raise a memorial to WWII Veterans until most of them were gone. Helping get those who remain out to see it is indeed an honor and a privilege.”
Quad Tech Engineering Manager
“These heroes we honor saved the world and enabled it to be what it is today. This program is the least we can do to honor their sacrifices and devotion to country”
FIS, VP and Product Manager
“I volunteer with the Honor Flight program in memory of my father, a WWII Army Sergeant. It is a privilege to be able to personally thank the greatest generation; the WII Veterans, for their service and what they did for the future of our country.”
Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center
“I have the dedication, drive and compassion to help others, in particular Soldiers and Veterans. It is an absolute honor to be able work with the Honor Flight to make this a reality for so many deserving people”