Jack Gauthier’s glasses reflect a ceremony in the April-May San Diego Honor Flight to Washington. Photo by Chris Stone
September 1 is the deadline for Vietnam veterans to apply for San Diego Honor Flight’s November trip to Washington, D.C.
The group will take Vietnam veterans to the nation’s capital for the first time Sept. 30-Oct. 2 after escorting nearly 1,500 World War II and Korean War veterans since 2010.
The September flight is reserved for Navy HA(L)-3 Seawolves veterans. The Seawolves provided air support to Navy SEALs, Swift Boat crews and Patrol Boats on the Mekong River and in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War.
The November flight, called an Award flight, is open to Vietnam veterans who earned a Purple Heart or a higher personal award for their military actions.
To apply, visit this page.
The second fall flight was announced following donations from foundations, organizations and grants that allow veterans to take their Honor Flight free of charge.
The Thursday Club Juniors held a fundraiser and donated more than $100,000 to Honor Flight San Diego, organizers said.
Around 60,000 Vietnam veterans live in San Diego County, Honor Flight says.
Although the flights now will serve those veterans, it will continue to accept applications from WWII and Korean War veterans and service members from any era with a terminal illness who haven’t been on a previous flight.
In conjunction with the flights, Honor Flight is soliciting hundreds of letters and cards for the veterans.
One of the highlights on the Honor Flight is “Mail Call,” a distribution of cards and letters collected from friends, family and community members.
Some letters and cards are written by Scouts, students and organizations.
Honor Flight San Diego asks people to address letters to “Dear Veteran,” include your name along with a return address of the classroom, Scout troop, or personal address on the back of the letter as many of the veterans wish to write back to thank the senders.
Letters can be sent to: Donna Hester, 645 Front Street, Unit 614, San Diego, CA 92101.
For questions, contact Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to receive letters for the two flights is one week prior to the departures — Sept. 23 and Oct. 28. However, Honor Flight collects letters all year long.