- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Officials with the Permian Basin Honor Flight announced their next mission to Washington, D.C., on Monday afternoon. Veterans will lift off from Odessa on Sept. 17 and will return on Sept. 19.

The Permian Basin Honor Flight is a local chapter of an organization dedicated to ensuring veterans have the opportunity to see the monuments in Washington, D.C., dedicated to WWII, as well as the Korea and Vietnam wars.

The organization has already completed two flights to the Capitol but they are still desperately trying to reach out to local WWII and Korea heroes for the next flight. “We need to fill this flight with as many World War II veterans as possible,” Jeremy West, director of the PB Honor Flight, said. This will mark the second PB Honor Flight of 2015 after the first departed and returned in May.

Organizers are specifically trying to reach out to local WWII and Korea veterans, and Chairman John West estimated hundreds have not yet gone on the flight.

“Finding the veterans is key and you can find the veterans that deserve to go on this trip in unlikely places,” John West said. “This is all about giving them the opportunity to enjoy the monuments that were built in their honor.”

Manuel Herrera, a WWII veteran, said Monday that it is an experience his fellow veterans must see, and because it is all expenses paid, it is an opportunity that cannot be passed up.

Herrera, 100, was on the flight that departed for the U.S. Capitol in May.

“I enjoyed every second of it,” Herrera said. “We went and saw a lot of places that I would have never seen if it wasn’t for the Honor Flight.”

During the trip, veterans and their guardians tour for three days several local memorials dedicated to all the soldiers who have served in the armed forces.

Right now, John West said they have 44 veteran applications for the third flight but they are trying to get 143 veterans on the flight. They are asking any and all veterans to get their guardians and sign up for the next flight.

John and Jeremy West also said the cost to send all of the veterans to Washington for the three-day tour costs about $250,000, so they are also asking for donations to help send the veterans on the third flight.

“Everything adds up and everything counts,” Jeremy West said.

Veteran and guardian applications can be found at Permianhonorflight.org.

Organizers are also planning a send off set to take place on Sept. 16, the day before the flight leaves for Washington.

West said they encourage every veteran to sign up, but especially the WWII and Korea veterans.

“So many people think they are taking up someone else’s space,” John West said. “But they are not taking their place and going to see the monuments that are built in their honor and they deserve to see.”

Contact Jared Wilson at 432-333-7786

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(c)2015 the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas)

Visit the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas) at www.oaoa.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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