Honor flight fundraiser helps local veterans


NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — This Memorial Day weekend, a nonprofit is raising money to send some local veterans on the trip of a lifetime.

It was a packed house at Poncho O’Malley’s in Narragansett on Sunday morning, where the brunch crowd came out to benefit the Rhode Island Fire Chiefs Honor Flight Hub.

Since its founding six years ago, the group has been taking local veterans to war memorials in our nation’s capital free of charge.  

“What a nice feeling, you know, to know that somebody cared, you know?” Dr. Irwin Kaplan said.

Local veterans are flown to Washington D.C. for the day.  They visit war memorials, bond with fellow service members, and enjoy a nice meal before heading back to T.F. Green Airport in Warwick.

“What impressed me mostly was the people who volunteered to do the work,” Rolvin Allen said.

Dr. Rolvin Allen is 95 years old.  He went on an honor flight four years ago.

While in Washington, D.C., he visited the grave of his squadron leader. “You have good memories, good memories,” Allen said.

Doctor Irwin Kaplan recently celebrated his 90th birthday.  He went on an honor flight just last year.

“It was such a nice feeling to see all these people appreciating what we did,” Allen said.

Any veteran who served during the time of the Korean War or World War II is eligible to go on an honor flight.

Organizers hope to take as many veterans as possible.

“Sixteen million men and women served during World War II.  They estimate there’s approximately 650,000 of those veterans left alive in this country, and of that they die about 6 to 800 every day.  So the time we have left to have these veterans and share this experience with them is dwindling,” said George Farrell, director of the Rhode Island Fire Chiefs Honor Flight Hub.

In less than a week, the group will depart on its 19th honor flight with twenty-five veterans.

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