Tim Downey of Honor Flight speaks at library 2012.03.21

Written by David Green.

honor flight downeyThe memories of World War II get pushed back further into history, said Tim Downey. It’s now two generations removed and will soon seem as distant as World War I or the Civil War appear to Americans now.

The purpose of Honor Flight was to acknowledge and salute the generation that served in World War II. This was accomplished by flying World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., for a day free of charge to visit the World War II memorial and other sights.

Downey, the producer of the film “Honor Flight Michigan: the Legacy,” showed the movie to an audience last week at Stair Public Library and then spoke about the making of the documentary.

Downey said that Michigan’s Honor Flight program was the most successful in the country, sending nearly three times as many veterans to Washington, D.C, as any other state. Michigan has the largest population of veterans still living in their home state.

When the program began, organizers thought they might transport a hundred veterans, but in the end, nearly 1,600 made the trip. With the auto industry booming after the war, many returning veterans came to Michigan for a job.

The Michigan program is not currently transporting veterans, but when it was in operation, 35 to 50 veterans were typically taken on a flight, along with a guardian for every one or two veterans. Assistance was needed throughout the day to help board the plane and various buses and to assist with meals. Guardians paid $350 to cover their expenses, but the veterans’ costs were covered by donations. Each flight cost in excess of $20,000.

At this time, the number of veterans healthy enough to make the trip continues to shrink, Downey said. World War II vets are now 86 years of age and older.

“It became increasingly difficult to get enough people for a trip,” he said, “and we took everybody that we had applications for.”

With the end of the flights to Washington, Honor Flight Michigan has turned its attention toward the construction of Michigan’s own World War II memorial. Park property is reserved for the project in Royal Oak where Honor Flight Michigan was founded.

“It’s going to be something spectacular,” Downey said. “It will make Michigan proud.”

The monument will celebrate not only the veterans, but also the industry of the state.

“We were the main state in the Union to produce the materials of war,” Downey said.

Munitions, tanks, jeeps, planes, bombs, artillery, guns, armored shields—the war was said to be won by what the auto plants in Michigan produced.

• The DVD can be purchased on-line at honorflightmichigan.com. Various other resources are available, including a collection of more than 7,000 photographs. Information about the monument is also available.

A book and CD about the program and a copy of the DVD are available at Stair Public Library.

  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.grieders
    ONE-TWO PUNCH—Morenci’s Griffin Grieder saved his best for last, running his fastest time ever in the 110-meter high hurdles at the state finals Saturday in Grand Rapids to finish first in the state in Div. IV. His brother Luke, a junior (right), claimed the state runner-up spot. Bulldog junior Bailee Dominique placed seventh in the 100-meter dash.
  • Front.sidewalk
    MORENCI senior class president Mikayla Price leads the way Sunday afternoon from the Church of the Nazarene to the United Methodist Church for the baccalaureate ceremony. Later in the day, 39 members of the senior class received diplomas in the high school gymnasium.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017