Honor Flight Philly Has First Bucks County Trip

Two busloads of World War II veterans spent a day of honor in Washington D.C.,  June 22 courtesy of Honor Flight Philadelphia and Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8).
All expenses including meals were covered for the vets.
It was the hub’s third trip since being chartered a year ago  and the first from Bucks County. leaving and returning from the Spring Mill Country Club in Ivyland.
“I credit Marie Martinelli and Patrick Carberry for making this event come together,” said hub President Andrew Schiavello.
Honor Flight is a national non-profit organization founded in 2005 to give aging or terminally ill veterans a day of honor in Washington D.C.
Honor Flight Philly Has First Bucks County Trip

Honor Flight Philly First Solo Mission Lands

Honor Flight Philly First Solo Mission LandsHonor Flight Philly First Solo Mission Lands — Honor Flight Philadelphia’s first solo trip ended with a rousing reception at Anthony’s Restaurant, 4990 State Road in Drexel Hill from their day in Washington D. C., April 14.

Greeting the three busloads of World War II veterans and their guardians were The Greater Overbrook String Band; Philadelphia Flyers Ice Girls; Swoop, who is the Philadelphia Eagles mascot; an arch made by fire company ladder trucks; honor guards from at least two different units; the Manhatten Dolls singers; and Congressman Pat Meehan.

There was hardly a dry eye among the veterans as they walked or were wheeled down a red carpet past a throng of flag wavers.

“It was a memorable day for me, said Myer Kurgan, a 95-year-old Army veteran from Delaware Valley  Veterans Home in Philadelphia. “It was very thoughtful.”

Kurgan served 38 months in Europe during the war.

“I started to feel good again,” said William Wilson, also of Delaware Valley Veterans Home. “I wouldn’t give it up.”

Wilson,87, was a Marine Aviation gunner who served in the South Pacific.  “We did a lot of damage,” he said.

Honor Flight is a national non-profit organization founded in 2005 to give aging or terminally ill veterans a day of honor in Washington D.C.

 There is no cost to the veterans. 

The Philadelphia hub was started by Springfield resident Andrew  Schiavello, who last June had seen a feature about the national group on Fox News  that piqued his interest.

“I  called (Honor Flight) about it,” he said. “There wasn’t a hub in Pennsylvania and they had been trying for six years.”

He decided to start a Philadelphia hub.

“How can a city this big not have a hub when little towns across the country have them,” he said.

The national group sent him the paper work along with directions as to how to start things. He got an accountant to help him set up a 501C3 tax empt organization and he created a board of directors.

With all the T’s crossed,  Honor Flight sent him the applications on file for the Philadelphia area — which had a 100 mile radius and included South Jersey, the Poconos, and Delaware.

There had been a waiting list of 130 persons some of whom had been on it since 2008. Only a handful were still interested in participating. Thirty had died. The health of others had declined. The average age of World War II veterans is 87.

Schiavello and his fellow board members Cathy Domizo of Newtown Square, Marie Martinelli of Havertown, Tracy Hagan of New Jersey, Laura Bennditt of Philadelphia, and Andrew’s wife, Angela,  began seeking new applicants. VFW and American Legion posts were contacted and message was spread through word of mouth.

They were “living Honor Flight”, Schiavello says.

“Any time I saw an older gentleman, I asked him (if he was a World War II veteran)” he says.

The group got a chance for a practice run last November when the History Channel asked them to organize a trip to Vietnam veterans for a Veterans Day event. Normally, Honor Flight assigns places on the basis of age, which in the case of the Philadelphia region means World War II,  or on whether the veteran is terminally ill. The special trip was a boon to the group, however, as the cable channel supplied the funding which the new group desperately needed. Each trip costs about $250 per veteran.

Due to the age of the veterans Honor Flight discourages trips from December through March when icy walkways are a concern.

So this meant Philadelphia’s first solo fight was going to be in April. The recruiting continued.

Linda Frangipane of  Vitas, a national veterans care group, joined the organization. She signed up 25 vets and provided 50 wheel chairs. Bill Lawrence of Springfield was tasked with publicity. All are volunteers.

When the day came 74 veterans and 72 guardians boarded the bus.

Schiavello, 52, who is the owner of Cappuccino Connection, a wholesale coffee supply house, said fundraising may be the hardest and most unrecognized part of making the trips works.

He said the assistance provided by local businesses was invaluable. He cited  Swiss Farms Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, Herr’s, Wawa, the Pilgrim Gardens McDonald’s, and Anthony’s Restaurant as being especially helpful.  He also expressed gratitude for the contributions by the Philadelphia Phllies; the Philadelphia Eagles; the Philadelphia Flyers’; bugler Al Harper; The General Smedley D. Butler Marine Corps League Detachment; American Legion Post 667; the Pennsylvania State Police which provided an escort for the veterans departure;  Warriors’  Watch Riders which provided an escort for the veterans arrival; and the Broomall and Garrettford-Drexel Hill fire companies.

Also making a significant contribution were members of Local 752 IATSE Ticketsellers. Ann Hagen helped check in veterans in at 5:30  the morning of the trip, and Carol Clowry  and Mike Lutz were guardians. Board member Tracy Hagen, who is also a member of the union, went along as a guardian as well.

Those wishing to make a donation, and donations are very much needed, can do so either through PayPal or by credit card from the website .

For information about getting involved with Honor Flight Philadelphia, or about where to mail a check call 610-662-1812 or email andrew@honorflightphiladelphia.org

Honor Flight Philly First Solo Mission Lands

Inaugural Honor Flight Lands

 

Inaugural Honor Flight Lands

Units from the Manoa and Bon Air fire companies, an honor guard from American Legion Post Manoa 667, and flag waving supporters greeted the contingent of Vietnam veterans returning this afternoon, Nov. 12, from an overnight trip to the monuments in Washington D.C.

Several veterans were noticeably touched with some saying it was the best greeting they ever received.

The trip was sponsored by History channel and Honor Flight Philadelphia. It was the first event for Honor Flight’s Philadelphia hub which is expected to begin regular trips this spring.

It went smooth with the only hitch being a minor bus breakdown a few blocks from the staging point at Hope Methodist Church, Steel and Eagle roads, Havertown.

History recorded parts of the event in D.C. and will feature it on an upcoming broadcast.

Manoa Post 667, which is adjacent to the church, treated the vets to beer and food after the greeting.

Honor Flight transports veterans to Washington, D.C. to
visit those memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices.
It is free of cost to the veterans. It is normally restricted to World War II and terminally ill veterans.

 Inaugural Honor Flight Lands in Manoa

Honor Flight Philly, History Channel Tribute To Vietnam Vets

Honor Flight Philly, History Channel Tribute To Vietnam VetsHonor Flight Philly, History Channel Tribute To Vietnam Vets — Vietnam veterans gather this morning, Nov. 11, in the parking lot of Hope Methodist Church in Havertown before boarding a bus to Washington D.C. to visit the monuments as part of a special trip organized by Honor Flight Philadelphia and History channel.

The vets got a free breakfast from the McDonalds on Township Line Road and escort by four Haverford Township motorcycle cops.

This is the inaugural trip for Honor Flight Philadelphia which became an Honor Flight in September. Honor Flight transports veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices.


It is free of cost to the veterans. It is normally restricted to World War II and terminally ill veterans.

Honor Flight Philadelphia will be running regular trips starting this spring.

The hub was organized by Andrew Schiavello of Springfield, who is its president.

The Vietnam veterans are returning between 4:30 and 5 p.m., tomorrow, to the church at Steel and Eagle roads. Those wishing to give them a rousing greeting are welcome.

Honor Flight Philly, History Channel Tribute To Vietnam Vets

Honor Flight Comes To Philly

Honor Flight Comes To Philly — The inaugural trip by Honor Flight Philadelphia begins Friday, Nov. 11 and is for Vietnam veterans. It  will be in partnership with History, formerly known as The History Channel.

The bus for Washington D.C. leaves the early morning from the parking lot of Hope Methodist Church, Steel and Eagle roads, Havertown.

There  will be 33 Vietnam veterans and 11 guardians on it. It returns between 4:30 and 5 the next afternoon.

History is planning on featuring the event in a broadcast.

Honor Flight, founded in 2005, transports veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices. It is free of cost to the veterans.

Unless there is a special partner such as History, eligibility is restricted to World War II and terminally ill veterans.

Honor Flight Philadelphia became the organization’s 109th hub in September.

 

Honor Flight Comes To Philly