The next Honor Flight for Yates County’s veterans is already being planned. Norm Koek, main organizer and fundraiser for the annual effort to enroll and fund area veterans in Honor Flight Rochester’s missions to Washington D.C., says World War II, Korean War, and Cold War veterans up to service in 1964 who have not previously taken an Honor Flight, are eligible for this trip later in the spring. Veterans of later service who have imminent health concerns will also be considered.

In the last six years, over 60 area veterans have taken the trip along with their personal “guardians” (often family members) who accompany them as assistants to ease the physical toll of travel. The two-day trip includes airfare, accommodation, visits to several war memorial sites, and a banquet, offering opportunities to visit with other veteran groups; all before returning home to a hero’s welcome. Past groups from Penn Yan have been some of the largest in Honor Flight’s history, and they’ve said the experience and the camaraderie they felt as a group was unforgettable.

Koek says, “Honor Flight Rochester raises the money for the veterans, but the guardians have to pay $300 each. When we started this, I didn’t want that to be a deterrent for someone not to go.” With the community’s help over the last six years, Koek has raised the money needed for the guardians. This year, generous donations from The Once Again Shoppe and Keuka College, as well as from the families of several past Honor Flight veterans, have reduced the fundraising pressure. “But we’ll never say no to money if people want to donate,” says Koek, who says the funds being gathered at Lyons National Bank in Penn Yan will go to future missions.

To apply for Honor Flight or donate, contact Koek at 315-759-1823; or Veteran Service Officer Carrie Ahearn by email: veterans@yatescounty.org, or phone: 315-536-5196.