DECATUR – The Central Illinois Honor Flight program for World War II veterans has ended in a collaboration with the Land of Lincoln Honor Flight program based in Springfield.
Don Niehart of Effingham, the Central Illinois Honor Flight organizer and president, said the remaining money and the remaining application list of veterans will be transferred.
After missing flights in 2013, Niehart had been planning three 2014 flights, starting with a May 6 and 7 flight from Decatur and including flights from Champaign and Marion. Those flights have been canceled.
Niehart is a real estate appraiser who started the Central Illinois Honor Flight program in 2009 and has arranged 22 free flights, taking more than 1,300 World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II Memorial and other memorials and the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery.
The veterans were accompanied by a guardian who paid $400 to $500 to cover their expenses. The flights were made possible by donations and by volunteer efforts.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to take our heroes to see their memorials, and we cannot thank them enough for their service. Also, the community of veterans supporters that have stepped forward to contribute and make our mission possible,” Niehart said. “If not for these men and women veterans, we may not be here today.”
Niehart cited a death in the family and business reasons for moving to the collaboration.
The Land of Lincoln Honor Flight program started shortly after the Central Illinois Honor Flight program began and has had 25 flights, said Ray Wiedle, a board member and former president. The next flight is Tuesday, April 29, from the Springfield Airport. It returns at 9:30 p.m.
Wiedle said future charter flights are set for June 10, Sept. 16 and Oct. 28. “We may also add a flight,” he said. “We're happy to add Don Niehart's group.”
Land of Lincoln Honor Flight, affiliated with the national Honor Flight Network, is accepting applications from veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Information and applications are available online at www.landoflincolnhonorflight.org. Contributions can be made on the website by credit card, debit card or a PayPal account.
The mail address is Land of Lincoln Honor Flight, 57 Country Place, Springfield, IL 62703. Contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.